In November 2003, a federal judge ordered an Illinois doctor to
pay $15,445 to the family of an U.S. Air Force captain for refusing
to rent the family a house because of its three young children.
In July 2000, Air Force Captain Dale Van Dyke, his wife Jennifer,
and their three young children relocated to Scott Air Force Base
in Illinois, and sought off-base housing. They were looking for
a safe neighborhood, good schools, and a yard for the children.
Mrs. Van Dyke telephoned Dr. Kenneth Brosh to inquire about a home
advertised for rent in Belleville, Illinois. Dr. Brosh described
the property and then asked Mrs. Van Dyke the number and ages of
her children. Mrs. Van Dyke replied that she had three children,
ages two, four, and six. Dr. Brosh responded that he did not like
to rent to families with small children because, "they are destructive
and have a tendency to be creative on the walls with their crayons."
Mrs. Van Dyke asked Dr. Brosh if he was aware that his comments
were illegal. Dr. Brosh responded with additional sarcastic comments,
and Mrs. Van Dyke ended the call.
The Van Dykes remained in temporary housing for another seven
days before moving to another house that didn't well suit their
The Housing Department of the US Air Force initially investigated
the case, but found no violation of its housing discrimination rules.
The Van Dykes filed a complaint with HUD in October 2000. HUD's
investigation supported the Van Dykes allegations, and the Department
filed a charge of discrimination on January 28, 2002. Dr. Brosh
exercised his option to have the case tried in U.S. District Court.
The Department of Justice took over the case, on behalf of the government,
and filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the
Southern District of Illinois on April 26, 2002.
The matter came to trial on September 22, 2003. The Department
of Justice subpoenaed HUD investigators Merilyn Brown and Alean
Jackson to testify about the evidence they collected and interviews
they conducted during the HUD investigation. Dr. Brosh admitted
to the court that he did not want to rent to a family with small
children. He argued that the Van Dykes, however, had not suffered
any harm as a result of his action.
The court thought different. On November 20, 2003 the court ruled
that Dr. Brosh had violated the Fair Housing Act by refusing to
rent to the Van Dykes because of their familial status, and by making
discriminatory statements. The court ordered Dr. Brosh to pay the
Van Dykes $15,445 in damages to compensate them for emotional distress,
the costs of temporary housing, and moving expenses. The court further
required Dr. Brosh to maintain records of advertisements of rental
property, records of current tenants, and addresses of past tenants
for a period of five years.
This outcome would not have been possible without the hard work
of HUD's Chicago field office. In particular, HUD recognizes Merilyn
Brown, Attorney Advisor, and Alean Jackson, Equal Opportunity Specialist,
for their superior commitment in HUD's ongoing fight for fair housing.