‘Defending against a management bully like this is not grounds for eviction’
A discrimination charge has been filed with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing over the eviction of an 85-year-old woman from her apartment.
She was told it was because of her religious activity.
“What happened to our client, Diana Martin, was wrong on many levels,” said Matthew McReynolds, a lawyer with the Pacific Justice Institute.
“No one should be evicted based on their religious expression, but especially not an elderly great-grandmother,” he said. “We are hopeful that a state investigation and remedial action will ensure this doesn’t happen to anyone else in this community.”
A WND call to the Windgate Village Apartments in Hanford, California, did not generate a response.
Martin had been living for nearly 14 years in the complex – promoted as a senior living center – when she was shocked by a call from the owner, PJI said.
She was told she was evicted because of her religious expression and age, the legal team explained.
Owner John Draxler, who also is the city’s vice-mayor, took the action even though Martin “still had months remaining on her year-to-year lease, and her rent was fully paid,” PJI said.
“But Draxler cited her religious activities – sharing her faith and offering to pray for people – as reasons why she must find a new home. Draxler knew Martin was recovering from strokes and a heart attack. When she began to cry, protesting that it was winter and she had no children living nearby, he responded that was not his problem,” said PJI.
Then Draxler repeated the religious basis for his decision in a conversation with Martin’s son, PJI said.
“She had originally moved to Windgate Village because it was designed and marketed as senior living. Since Draxler bought the complex a few years ago, he has brought in younger renters and is now removing older tenants. For many years now, Martin notes that the complex has failed to offer activities or amenities consistent with its original designation as a senior facility,” said PJI.
Martin complied with the orders but then contacted PJI.
“Besides the discriminatory reasons offered for the eviction, the notice given to Martin was clearly defective as to its timing. PJI fired off a legal demand letter for Martin. While Draxler initially seemed eager to settle and keep the matter quiet, talks stalled. PJI has now initiated a formal charge of discrimination with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing,” the organization said.
The management charges that Martin was “combative.”
PJI explained: “One of the conflicts between Martin and the management stemmed from their attempt to take away her longtime parking space and reassign her to one some distance from her door and next to a dumpster. Martin had raised safety concerns about homeless men foraging in the dumpster, so the move seemed retaliatory.”
PJI’s McReynolds said defending yourself “against a management bully like this is not grounds for an eviction, it’s just common sense.”
“I hope all of us could be described as combative if anyone tried to treat our mothers, grandmothers, or great-grandmothers this way.”