African-American real estate agent wins $100,000 jury award after being denied Re/Max franchise

Earlier this year, an African-American man who asserted that a realty company denied him a real estate franchise because of his race, won a $100,000 jury award against a Colorado real estate company. An all-white federal jury awarded the money to Edward Tyler after a six-day trial in February 1998. Tyler filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division before he filed his federal lawsuit.

Re/Max Mountain States, the real estate company that denied Tyler a franchise will pay $65,226 in economic damages and $35,000 in emotional distress damages. The jury also ruled that Tyler be compensated for his attorneys' fees and costs.

In 1996, Tyler submitted an application to Re/Max Mountain States. He had intended to open a real estate brokerage in Security, Colorado. Tyler would have operated the Re/Max franchise alongside his independent real estate agency in Colorado Springs.

According to Tyler's complaint, he met all of the requirements set forth by Re/Max for new franchisees.

Tyler had the necessary cash on hand plus a commitment for a bank loan to expand his real estate sales force.

Despite meeting Re/Max's requirements, Re/Max Mountain States turned down Tyler. Tyler asserted that Re/Max told him that there were already too many Re/Max affiliates in the area where he planned to place his franchise. However, after Re/Max denied his application, Tyler learned that they awarded three Re/Max franchises to white applicants in the Colorado Springs area. Of the 130 Re/Max franchise owners in Colorado, none are African-American. With these facts in hand, Tyler filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division and then filed his federal lawsuit under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the federal Fair Housing Act.

Re/Max claims that they passed over Tyler because of his financial background. The company said that it planned to appeal the ruling.