Seventh Circuit holds that the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation

Extending a former precedent concerning employment discrimination, Hively v. Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana, 853 F.3d 339 (7th Cir. 2017), a three judge panel of the Seventh Circuit has held that discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the Fair Housing Act. Wetzel v. Glen St. Andrew Living Community, LLC, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 24193 (7th Cir. 2018). The case involves a continuing care retirement community which failed to protect one of its residents from harassment by other residents directed at her because she is a lesbian. The court held that a landlord is liable for tenant-on-tenant harassment when it has actual notice of it but chooses not to take any reasonable steps to stop that harassment. Harassment is outlawed if it is severe or pervasive and that is the case where the harassment objectively interferes with teh enjoyment of the premises or inhibits the privileges of rental. The court also found a violation of §3617 of the Fair Housing Act which makes it unlawful to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or interfere with any person in the exercise or enjoyment of rights to be free from housing discrimination.