Linkletter v. Western & Southern Financial Group, Inc.

851 F.3d 632 (2017)

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Linkletter v. Western & Southern Financial Group, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
851 F.3d 632 (2017)

Facts

Gayle Linkletter (plaintiff) accepted a position with Western & Southern Financial Group, Inc. (Western & Southern) (defendant), an insurance company. However, before Linkletter started work, an officer in human resources, Kim Chiodi (defendant), contacted Linkletter and rescinded the job offer. According to Linkletter, Chiodi explained that Linkletter’s employment contract had been rescinded because she had signed a petition advocating for a local women’s shelter in opposition to Western & Southern’s position. The shelter had been in the same location for 102 years and provided lodging for around 25 women recovering from prostitution and 85 affordable, permanent housing units. Western & Southern had tried to force the shelter to leave the neighborhood. The shelter’s residents had sued Western & Southern in federal district court under § 3617 of the Fair Housing Act (the act) based on their rights under §§ 3603–06 of the act, which prohibited discrimination in the sale or rental of lodging based on various protected classes, including sex. Linkletter had signed the petition while this litigation was ongoing. Linkletter likewise sued the defendants in federal district court under § 3617, which protected parties who had encouraged the housing rights safeguarded by the statute and experienced interference in retaliation. Linkletter argued that the rescission of her employment contract was an act of retaliation in interference with her job because she had encouraged women in their pursuit of housing rights under the act by signing the shelter’s petition. Western & Southern and Chiodi moved for dismissal for failure to state a claim, which the district court granted. Linkletter appealed. On appeal, Western & Southern argued that their motivation for removing the shelter and its affordable housing for women was economic, not sexual discrimination.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Merritt, J.)

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