Familial Status charge issued against Owen Community Bank

The Executive Director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission (ICRC), has issued a Notice of Finding against Owen Community Bank (Respondent). The charge states that probable cause exists to believe that an unlawful discriminatory practice has occurred (Ind. Code § 22-9, et seq.).

By way of background, Complainant signed a lease on June 17, 2014. The lease included Complainant as well as her minor son. During the course of her tenancy, evidence shows that Complainant’s neighbor complained about Complainant’s son to Respondent. While Complainant states that she also complained about her neighbor including calling the police because the neighbor yelled at her, evidence shows that Respondent provided Complainant a non-renewal notice on April 29, 2015. While Respondent claims that it ultimately decided to terminate all leases, including Complainant’s, because the apartment was going to be demolished, evidence shows that Respondent’s board of directors did not vote to demolish the property until May 19, 2015 - nearly 20 days after tendering Complainant’s notice of non-renewal. Respondent did not issue non-renewal notices to other tenants until on or about June 1, 2015. Further, evidence shows that the notice of non-renewal given to Complainant did not provide a rationale for the non-renewal, unlike the notices provided to similarly-situated tenants without children. 

Despite Respondent’s assertions, there is sufficient evidence to believe that a discriminatory practice occurred as alleged. There is sufficient evidence to establish a nexus between Respondent’s decision not to renew Complainant’s lease and her familial status. Based upon the aforementioned, reasonable cause exists to believe that a discriminatory practice occurred as alleged.

The issue pending before the Commission is whether Respondent refused to renew Complainant’s lease because of her familial status.  In order to prevail, Complainant must show that (1) she resides with a child under the age of 17; (2) she met Respondent’s legitimate tenancy expectations; (3) Respondent refused to renew Complainant’s lease; and (4) similarly-situated tenants without children were treated more favorably under similar circumstances.  It is evident that Complainant is a member of a protected class as she resides with her minor son. Evidence suggests that Complainant met Respondent’s legitimate business expectations.

A public hearing is necessary to determine whether a violation of the Indiana Fair Housing Act and/or the Indiana Civil Rights Law occurred in the case.  

Click here for official Notice of Findings document.