Wisconsin Appeals Court: Landlord can Evict Black Roommate
A Wisconsin appeals court says a white landlord had the right to kick a tenant out of his house because he is black.
Michael Haller forced Martin Jones to move out of his home in Milwaukee's Bay View neighborhood in 2013 after court documents allege Haller's wife said she didn't feel comfortable with an African-American living in their house.
Wisconsin law prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on race. But the 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the law doesn't apply in this case because Jones was renting a bedroom in Haller's house rather than a separate dwelling unit.
The court said Haller has the right to decide who shares his home.
"When she came over to do the wash one day, said to her husband, 'it's bad enough that the black person would be living in the neighborhood, let alone in our house,'" said Attorney Robert Meyeroff. Meyeroff represents Jones.
Meyeroff says after that comment, the husband and wife got in an argument, and Jones was asked to leave the home permanently.
Michael Haller expressed to CBS 58 he is happy he won the appeal, but says the issue had nothing to do with skin color.
"I knew he was black before I rented to him. I could see him; I'm not blind, and it's just the kind of tenant he was. Who he was," said Haller.
Haller says he asked Jones to leave for other reasons.
"He took over the kitchen and the refrigerator," said Haller.
Although, the court ruled "It is undisputed that the reason Haller made Jones vacate... based, at least partially, on the fact that Haller is African American"
Jones has since moved out of state, but his lawyer says the two lived separately since Jones was not allowed upstairs or in the basement. Jones and Meyeroff are discussing appealing the case to the state supreme court. They would argue the two lived in separate units.