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Sarah Yoder.

Yoder v. Haven Homesteads LLC

#W18-115 | Location: Lansing | Court Level: Federal | Settlement: Non-disclosed

Categories: National Origin, Rental, Sex
Tags: Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, Native American, Sexual Harassment

Sarah Yoder contacted the Fair Housing Center in August 2018 to file a sexual harassment complaint. Ms. Yoder says she was asked to do a striptease in exchange for negotiating a lower rent.

Ms. Yoder, a 39-year-old Native American woman, stated that she had gone to view a one-bedroom house listed for $700/month in Lansing and that Mr. McDonell gave her a tour. Later that day, she asked Mr. McDonell via text if the rent was negotiable. McDonell responded, “I bet your (sic) more fun to negotiate with in person.”

Follow up text messages included asking Ms. Yoder to do a striptease for him. Ms. Yoder declined to respond to his subsequent text messages. Two days later, Ms. Yoder sent a message to another person named “Jason” listing a similar property on Craigslist. Ms. Yoder and a friend went to see the unit, soon realizing it was the same house. When they saw Mr. McDonell waiting there, they began to leave. Then, according to the lawsuit, he screamed discriminatory statements to Ms. Yoder. He texted her again that night asking, “u mad that I asked u to wear something cute so I could check u out?”

After the Fair Housing Center advised her of her rights, Ms. Yoder chose to take her case to litigation. The FHC Board of Directors elected to join the lawsuit. FHC Cooperating Attorney Robert M. Howard from the law firm of Bos & Glazier, PLC, filed the fair housing complaint based on sex and national origin. The lawsuit alleges violations of the Federal Fair Housing Act and the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. The case, filed in Federal Court on September 9, 2019, was assigned to the Honorable Robert J. Jonker.

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