Skip to main content
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location
Begin typing to search, use arrow keys to navigate, use enter to select

Find a Lawyer

More Options

Lesbian Senior Center Tenant's FHA Case Revived

By George Khoury, Esq. on August 30, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed the dismissal of a sexual orientation discrimination and retaliation case brought by a resident of a senior center.

The case alleges that the resident was subjected to pejorative verbal attacks, and even physical attacks, on multiple occasions. Furthermore, despite notifying the staff, nothing was done to protect her from the abusive tenants. The district court came down on the side of senior center as it agreed the Fair Housing Act only imposed liability on landlords for acting with discriminatory animus. However, the circuit court had a different reading of the FHA.

Details of the Discrimination

After plaintiff Marsha Wetzel's partner passed, she decided to move into a senior center. Unfortunately, the other members in the senior center were not happy about the fact that she identifies as a lesbian, and they let her know it.

In addition to verbal abuse, on a few occasions, other residents physically hit her and her scooter. On one occasion, she was whacked on the back of the head while the unknown assailant called her a name. And on another occasion, she was bumped hard enough that she fell out of her scooter.

When she reported the incidents to the staff, she was met with resistance, and was eventually just told to stay away from certain parts of the center.

The Seventh Circuit explained that:

We read the FHA more broadly. Not only does it create liability when a landlord intentionally discriminates against a tenant based on a protected characteristic; it also creates liability against a landlord that has actual notice of tenant-on-tenant harassment based on a protected status, yet chooses not to take any reasonable steps within its control to stop that harassment.

Related Resources:

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

Or contact an attorney near you:
Copied to clipboard