"Call Back When You Have a Husband" Complaint Settles for $18,000

In June 1992, the Council received a complaint from a single mother with three children. She had called an apartment complex in Aston Township, Delaware County to inquire about a three-bedroom unit.

After hearing details abouth the apartment, she responded, "It sounds great for us." The manager then asked who the "us" would be. She explained that it meant herself and her three children. The manager told her that the occupancy laws of Aston Township would exclude her because the size of her family was too large. She contacted Aston Township, inquired about the occupancy law, and discovered that no such law existed. She then phoned the manager again and he reiterated that her family size exceeded that permitted by the occupancy law. She summarized her discussion with Aston Township officials and was again told that there was such a law. She said she was still interested in the apartment. He advised her to call back when she got a husband. When she asked wouldn't that be one more person, he did not answer.

FHCSP sent testers to the apartment complex with the following results:

Tester #1, a female representing one adult and three children, visited the complex a few days after the Council received the complaint and asked to see a two-bedroom unit. On the way to view it, the manager told the tester that it was a nice, quiet community with a few families. The tester responded, "Good! Because I have three children." The manager immediately stopped walking and asked the ages of the tester's children. Even before the tester could respond, the manager said that he could not rent to her because it would be against the occupancy laws. He explained that they had once had a family with three children and that they had caused nothing but problems. He suggested that the tester look elsewhere for an apartment.

Tester #2, a male representing two adults and two children, visited the apartment complex and met with the same manager. The tester volunteered that he had a wife and two grandchildren living with him, was told that there were several families with children in the compelx, and was shown the play areas. He was shown and offered a two-bedroom unit. The FHCSP filed a complaint with HUD, claiming both familial status discrimination and gender discrimination against a female with no male in a household.