Argued: January 24, 2017
from the United States District Court for the Southern
District of Ohio at Cincinnati. No. 1:15-cv-00162-Timothy S.
Black, District Judge.
Wills, Cincinnati, Ohio, for Appellant.
Deborah S. Adams, FROST BROWN TODD LLC, Cincinnati, Ohio, for
Wills, Cincinnati, Ohio, Jennifer L. Branch, GERHARDSTEIN
& BRANCH CO. LPA, Cincinnati, Ohio, for Appellant.
Deborah S. Adams, Neal Shah, FROST BROWN TODD LLC,
Cincinnati, Ohio, for Appellees.
Before: MERRITT, CLAY, and DONALD, Circuit Judges.
MERRITT, Circuit Judge.
Fair Housing Act case that was dismissed for failure to state
a valid claim, the plaintiff, Gayle Linkletter, signed an
online petition supporting a Cincinnati women's shelter,
the Anna Louise Inn, after she had accepted a position with
the defendant, Western & Southern. Western & Southern
rescinded its employment agreement with Linkletter because
she signed the petition while the company was engaged in a
lengthy real estate dispute with the women's shelter over
its location in the neighborhood. Residents of the shelter
had previously sued Western & Southern in federal court
under the Fair Housing Act, particularly 42 U.S.C. §
3617. As a result of that earlier litigation, Western &
Southern reached a settlement with the shelter and purchased
the property. After Linkletter's employment contract was
rescinded she sued Western & Southern and its employee,
Kim Chiodi, under § 3617 and the state analog in the
Ohio Civil Rights Act. Section 3617 states in the part
relevant to this case as follows:
It shall be unlawful to . . . interfere with any person . . .
on account of his having aided or encouraged any other person
in the exercise or enjoyment of, any right granted or
protected by section 3603, 3604, 3605, or 3606 of this title.
42 U.S.C. § 3617. Specifically, Linkletter claims her
petition-signing encouraged the residents of the women's
shelter in their rights granted by § 3604, involving
discrimination in the rental or sale of housing:
[I]t shall be unlawful . . . (a) To refuse to sell or rent .
. . or to refuse to negotiate for the sale or rental of, or
otherwise make unavailable or deny, a dwelling to any person
because of . . . sex . . . . (b) To discriminate . . . in the
provision of services or facilities in connection therewith,
because of . . . sex . . . . (c) To make, print, or publish .
. . any notice, statement, or advertisement, with respect to
the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any
preference, limitation, or discrimination based on . . . sex
. . . . (d) To represent to any person because of . . . sex .
. . that any dwelling is not available for inspection, sale,
or rental when such dwelling is in fact so available . . . .
(e) For profit, to induce or attempt to induce any person to
sell or rent any dwelling by representations regarding the
entry or prospective entry into the neighborhood of a person
or persons of a particular . . . sex . . . .
42 U.S.C. § 3604(a)-(e).
conclude that Linkletter presents a plausible claim for
relief. Taking the facts in a light most favorable to the
non-moving party, Linkletter's petition-signing
supporting the shelter fits within the meaning of the phrase
"aided or encouraged" and the defendants'
rescission of their employment agreement constitutes an
"interference" with that encouragement.
Accordingly, the district court was ...