The Iowa Court of Appeals says the Sioux City Human Rights Commission may sue the owners of rental properties for housing discrimination for rejecting renters with disabilities who asked to keep companion animals in their home.
A three-judge panel ruled Wednesday that the city and commission have standing to sue for violations of the law under the Iowa Civil Rights Act.
The city first sued James W. Boyd Revocable Trust and its trustees James Boyd and Jennifer Boyle in March 2017, claiming they twice violated the law by denying reasonable accommodation of a disability.
Human Rights Commission Director Karen Mackey says this case came from a recorded call made by a testing firm they use to check that landlords are complying with the law:
OC……….need for the companion animal. :23
The city seeks a court order to stop the practice, civil penalties and punitive damages.
A judge dismissed the lawsuit in March 2018, finding the commission was not an “aggrieved person” eligible to sue under Iowa law.
Mackey says the Commission and city appealed that ruling:
OC………police department does. :23
Mackey says the Commission hopes to educate landlords on housing law, rather than punish them:
OC………settled it with us. :23
The appeals court judges applied the federal discrimination law definition, which allows a local civil rights commission to directly litigate discrimination concerns.
They sent the case back to district court for trial.