Cases | Ken Hauge | First Liberty

Case History

Ken and Liv Hauge, both in their mid-80s, have been residents of the Evergreens since 2017, a complex managed by the Community Realty Company (CRC).  A retired pastor, Ken led a small Bible study in his personal capacity at the behest of other senior residents.  But CRC and Evergreens management discriminated against Ken, his wife Liv, and others on the basis of religion, by first banning all residents from publicly saying grace before their meals, and then prohibiting the Hauges from hosting the Bible Study anywhere at The Evergreens, including within their own apartment, under threat of eviction.

The ban includes the community room, an area that hosts various resident social events, such as birthday parties, anniversary parties, baby showers, bingo, bridge, and poker games, and a monthly social dinner. These events are marked on a bimonthly calendar distributed to all residents. The calendar notes which events are Evergreens-sponsored and which are resident events and includes a disclaimer that resident events are not attributable to the Evergreens. Ken reserved the room for the weekly Bible study in early 2017 after putting up a $100 deposit. However, management refused to allow him to call the event a “Bible study,” requiring instead that he call it a “Book Review.”

In July of 2018, Evergreens instituted a new, six-page community room policy placing onerous regulations on community room use and prohibited, among others, using the Community Room for “religious services or for other religious purposes.” A certified letter, also dated July 23, Ken and his wife received a notice of eviction. That notice informed him that CRC considers his Bible study leadership to constitute “conducting a business” prohibited by his lease and, as a result, unless he ceases to lead the Bible study, whether in the community room or in his private apartment, threatened to terminate his lease!

Even though the law allows Ken to host a Bible study in his private residence and protects him against religious discrimination in housing, to avoid the threat of eviction, Ken agreed to temporarily stop leading the Bible study until his attorneys can resolve the matter with the Evergreens’ management.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Justice on its website clearly states that “…when condominiums or apartments have a common room that can be reserved by residents for private activities like parties or book studies, residents seeking to hold a Bible study or other private religious activity may not be discriminated against.”

First Liberty Legal Action

Attorneys with First Liberty Institute initially sent a demand letter detailing how CRC and the Evergreens’s actions constitute religious discrimination in housing, a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. Then, First Liberty attorneys filed a formal complaint to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. An investigation is ongoing.

In May 2019, First Liberty and attorneys with Hunton Andrews Kurth, LLP filed a federal lawsuit against the Evergreens at Smith Run and its parent company, CRC, alleging religious discrimination in housing by the management of the senior living community.

“The management company’s hostility to religious residents violates federal law and taints Virginia’s long history of religious freedom,” said Lea Patterson, associate counsel for First Liberty.  “We’re asking the court to hold the management company accountable for violating the Hauges’ right to exercise their faith in their home and to ensure no other residents have to suffer through what the Hauges have endured.”

News Release
For Immediate Release: 5.22.19
Contact: Lacey McNiel, media@firstliberty.org
Direct: 972-941-4453

Virginia Senior Living Community Sued After Threatening Resident with Eviction for Leading Bible Study

First Liberty Institute files lawsuit in federal court alleging Fair Housing Violations and Religious Discrimination by management company

Fredericksburg, VA—First Liberty Institute and attorneys with Hunton Andrews Kurth, LLP filed a federal lawsuit against the Evergreens at Smith Run and its parent company, Community Realty Company (“CRC”), alleging religious discrimination in housing by the management of the senior living community in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ken and Liv Hauge, Evergreens residents who were threatened with eviction by the company last year for hosting a small Bible study.

You can read the lawsuit here.

“The management company’s hostility to religious residents violates federal law and taints Virginia’s long history of religious freedom,” said Lea Patterson, associate counsel for First Liberty.  “We’re asking the court to hold the management company accountable for violating the Hauges’ right to exercise their faith in their home and to ensure no other residents have to suffer through what the Hauges have endured.”

Ken and Liv Hauge, both in their mid-80s, have been residents of the Evergreens since 2017.  A retired pastor, Ken led a small Bible study in his personal capacity at the behest of other senior residents.  The lawsuit claims that CRC and Evergreens management discriminated against the Hauges and others on the basis of religion, by first banning all residents from publicly saying grace before their meals, and then prohibiting the Hauges from hosting the Bible Study anywhere at The Evergreens, including within their own apartment, under threat of eviction.

In October of last year, First Liberty asked the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to investigate CRC for religious discrimination.  An investigation is ongoing.


About First Liberty Institute

First Liberty Institute is the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to defending religious freedom for all Americans.

To arrange an interview, contact Lacey McNiel at media@firstliberty.org or by calling 972-941-4453.

To download this press release, please click here.


Press Releases

Press Release – 10/11/2018

First Liberty Press Release – 08/15/2018

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