PHA Not Liable for Age Discrimination
Facts: An elderly resident in a federally assisted housing complex sued the local housing authority, the city's mayor, and the local council government for alleged criminal activity targeted at elderly residents at her site. Her complaint claimed that the defendants damaged and destroyed her vehicle; entered her unit and intentionally damaged her bed and mattress; kept her in poverty and engaged in hate crimes against her because of her age; refused to employ her because of her age and the fact that she is “different”; failed to have police regularly patrol the complex; and failed to control criminal activity there by installing security cameras.
Ruling: A Kentucky district court dismissed the resident's complaint.
Reasoning: Although the resident claimed that “the defendants” intentionally damaged her car and entered her unit, damaging her bed in the process, she didn't provide the name of any person who allegedly committed these acts, and the only individual named as a defendant was the mayor. Assuming that the mayor didn't personally destroy her property, he isn't liable for the actions of his subordinates unless he directly ordered or encouraged the specific conduct in question.
Her allegation that the housing authority discriminated against her because of her age failed because she didn't show that she's a member of a protected class and that she was intentionally and purposefully discriminated against because of her membership in that protected class. The housing authority doesn't have a policy or custom to deprive older citizens of services, or benefits while providing such services, or benefits to other classes, and she didn't show that age discrimination was the motivation for any sort of different treatment. Instead, she alleged that the housing authority simply doesn't like elderly people, a claim insufficient to establish an equal protection violation.
- Bowman v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Housing Authority, et al., June 2012