Resident who filed discrimination suit faces eviction from apartment
Gregory Zagel agreed to leave Oswego Pointe by Jan. 5 and settled his civil lawsuit, but now he says he needs more time
Oswego Pointe resident Gregory Zagel, who filed a civil discrimination lawsuit against his landlords in June, now is facing eviction from the apartment where he has lived for the past 14 years.
Zagel says representatives of Oswego Pointe initially posted a notice on his door on Oct. 8, stating that he was being evicted with no cause and needed to vacate by Dec. 8. Zagel told
The Review at the time that he believed the eviction was
blatant retaliation for his lawsuit.
At an eviction hearing in Clackamas County Court on Dec. 18, an attorney for Oswego Pointe offered to extend the deadline to Jan. 5 if Zagel would agree to move out. Zagel says he didnt think hed be able to leave that quickly, but he accepted the offer because he says the crush of the holidays made it impossible to find an attorney who would help him fight the case.
Anytime you have only one week to prepare for a trial I just dont see how that can be done, Zagel said after the hearing. Id have to represent myself, and I dont like those odds.
No-cause evictions are allowed under Oregon law, with varying rules based on the type of tenancy. Residents on a month-to-month lease must be given at least 30 days notice during the first year of occupancy or 60 days notice after the first year. According to Zagel, Oswego Pointe refused to renew his annual lease after he filed a Bureau of Labor and Industries complaint that led to the civil lawsuit.
Zagel says he would be willing to move, but that he needs more time to do so for health and financial reasons.
Realistically, I probably need to leave and just get a fresh start somewhere else, but its hard to relocate when you have basically no money, Zagel said last week. This is the first time Ive had to worry about a roof over my head. And to be honest, its tearing me up. I never thought Id be in a position like this.
Neither Oswego Pointe management nor the companys attorneys replied to The Reviews requests for comment.
Oregons Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) filed the lawsuit against Oswego Pointe and its parent company, Prime Group, on Zagels behalf last year, alleging that Zagel had been subjected to repeated harassment by Thomas Rainey, the former activities manager for the apartment complex.
The harassment was related to Zagels religion and sexual
orientation, the lawsuit claimed.
As described in the state court filing, Zagel initially complained to Oswego Pointe management about Rainey in 2010, saying the harassment began when he declined Raineys invitation to attend his church. Zagel then allegedly received a series of profane messages sent from Raineys personal email address, the lawsuit claimed.
Thats when Zagel took his case to BOLI, claiming that Oswego Pointe had failed to take action against Rainey. After a two-year investigation, BOLI ruled in April 2013 that it had found the complaint to be substantiated. BOLI filed its lawsuit in June 2015, but then recently reversed course and withdrew its support in late October.
Our agency conducted an investigation and found evidence of unlawful discrimination, BOLI spokesman Charlie Burr told The Review in an email. However, information made available to us during mediation led us to not pursue the case further.
Burr declined to elaborate on the information in question, citing a provision of Oregon law that prevents BOLI from disclosing details about mediation meetings relating to ongoing litigation.
We stand by our investigations findings based on the facts available to us at the time, he said.
Without BOLIs support, Zagel settled the lawsuit last week. He says he agreed to declare that Oswego Pointes management adequately addressed the situation after Zagel took his complaint to BOLI; in exchange, Zagel says, Oswego Pointes management agreed not to countersue to recover legal costs.
The Review was unable to locate any documentation of the settlement terms; it is unclear whether the agreement is public record.
They did not deny that what happened, happened, said Zagel. They just wanted me to say that I feel that management addressed the situation correctly.
The eviction is a separate case, which means the lawsuit settlement had no impact on the Jan. 5 deadline for Zagel to move out of Oswego Pointe. At the end of the day Tuesday, however, he was still in his apartment and said he plans to appeal the eviction one more time.
Hes not confident about the outcome.
I can understand Prime wanting to win the case thats fine, Zagel said of Oswego Pointes corporate owner. But after 14 years, why throw me out on the street?