Rent it Right
I can see a judge ruling in your wife's favor if she were to bring a retaliation claim against her employer, the landlord. The policy behind retaliation, in both the employment and landlord/tenant worlds, is the same: to encourage honest complaints and reporting. Because courts want to protect the rights of both tenants and employees, the fact that you were a tenant and not an employee should not change the outcome.
Your landlord was trying to discourage you from exercising your legal rights by taking action against your wife. Like the man in Thompson, she is the one who was hurt by the landlord's retaliation, so she arguably comes within the zone of interests the law seeks to protect. In these circumstances, a court may well decide that she has a valid legal claim for retaliation.
Janet Portman is an attorney and managing editor at Nolo. She specializes in landlord/tenant law and is co-author of "Every Landlord's Legal Guide" and "Every Tenant's Legal Guide." She can be reached at email@example.com.
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