Wetzel v. Glen St. Andrew Living Community

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Marsha Wetzel
Status: Open
Court:
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Issues: Housing, Seniors

In a groundbreaking decision, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a landlord may be held liable under the Fair Housing Act for failing to protect a tenant from known, discriminatory harassment at the hands of other tenants, reinstating Lambda Legal’s federal lawsuit on behalf of lesbian senior, Marsha Wetzel, against Glen St. Andrew Living Community in Niles, Illinois. The suit claims that the facility failed to protect Wetzel, a resident of the facility, from harassment, discrimination and violence she has endured at the hands of other residents because of her sex and sexual orientation.

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To send a message of support to Marsha Wetzel, pictured, click here.

Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of lesbian senior, Marsha Wetzel, against Glen St. Andrew Living Community in Niles, Illinois, claiming the facility failed to protect Wetzel, a resident of the facility, from harassment, discrimination and violence she has endured at the hands of other residents because of her sex and sexual orientation.

Glen St. Andrew Living Community is a for-profit senior living facility in Niles, Illinois. Wetzel moved into the facility after being evicted from the home she shared with her late partner by her partner’s siblings . After she disclosed to other residents that she had been in a long-term relationship with a woman and that they had raised a family together, some residents began to harass her, physically attack her and call her names like “fucking dyke,” “fucking faggot,” and “homosexual bitch.” Marsha reported these incidents of harassment and abuse to facility administrators, but rather than taking action to address the ongoing discrimination, the staff have marginalized and alienated Marsha and retaliated against her for complaining about the harassment. Wetzel contacted the Lambda Legal Help Desk after the facility did not address her complaints.

Lambda Legal’s lawsuit brings claims under the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and the Illinois Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sex. On remand from the Seventh Circuit, these claims will now proceed at the district court.