$95K Awarded in Gender Identity Discrimination Case
The Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission reported that it issued a final decision and order in in a housing discrimination case on Nov. 30, 2018, that occured on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. The Commission found that landlord Jeffrey Primack discriminated against Kiona Boyd based on her gender identity and expression and awarded Boyd a total of $95,000 in damages, including $75,000 in emotional distress damages and $20,000 in punitive damages. Primack did not appeal the decision.
“The decision from the Commission reaffirms its commitment to the elimination of discrimination in housing,” said Executive Director, William D. Hoshijo. “The award of punitive damages in the Commission’s Final Decision and Order should signal to housing providers that harassment, intimidation, and discrimination against individuals for expressing their gender identity will not be tolerated.”
Boyd’s fair housing complaint alleged that Primack harassed, threatened, and forced her off the subject property after he saw her expressing her gender identity for the first time in person. Boyd lived and worked as the property caretaker while Primack resided in Florida. Primack visited the Hawaiʻi property to hold Qigong retreats for his mainland-based business and first met Boyd in 2012 when she was using a name traditionally associated with the male gender and presented as male.
At the hearing, Boyd testified that she suffered emotional distress after Primack forced her off the property and harassed and threatened her both verbally and through text messages. Primack’s text messages included multiple threats to strangle, punch, and inflict pain on Boyd, belittled her gender identity and expression, and contained gender-based slurs. Primack gave Boyd one day’s notice to vacate the property, forcing her to become homeless and live out of her car.
In the Commission hearing, Dr. Rebecca Stotzer, an expert on bias crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals, offered expert testimony and a report on the pervasive stigmatization of transgender individuals, and research indicating that transgender women are at greater risk of being subjected to violence. In light of this heightened risk of harm, transgender individuals have reason to take threats of violence seriously, stated Dr. Stotzer.
The Commission also ordered Jeffrey Primack to immediately cease and desist unlawful discriminatory practices, develop and implement a written anti-discrimination in real property transactions policy, and attend a fair housing training session. The Final Decision and Order in William D. Hoshijo, Executive Director, on behalf of Kiona E. Boyd v. Jeffrey David Primack, Dkt. No. 18-001-H-S, is posted on the HCRC webpage.
The Hawaiʻi Civil Rights Commission is responsible for enforcing state civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and state-funded services. If you feel you have been subjected to discrimination on any basis protected under state law, contact the HCRC at: telephone (808) 586-8636, or email [email protected].