Ohio Owner Not Liable for Failing to Prevent Discrimination
Facts: After a resident at an Ohio assisted site had racially harassed another resident, the owner took no action. The harassed resident sued the site, claiming that the owner was responsible for allowing the harassment to continue. A lower court ruled that the owner could be sued for permitting a hostile housing environment to exist. The owner appealed.
Decision: The Ohio Supreme Court ruled for the owner.
Reasoning: The resident had argued that racial discrimination and harassment between residents is analogous to that occurring between employees in the workplace, where the employer may be liable for an employee's actions. The court disagreed. An owner's control over a resident is not comparable to an employer's control over an employee, the court said. An owner's power to evict is “insufficient” for an owner to be held liable for a resident's conduct towards a neighbor, the court said. Therefore, the court ruled that under Ohio law an owner cannot be sued for failing to take corrective action when racial harassment by a neighbor created a hostile housing environment.
- Ohio Civil Rights Commission v. Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, July 2008