Lawsuit claims Denver landlord denied man a property lease because he's Muslim

DENVER — Rashad Khan has called the United States home for 13 years. The 36-year-old went to Colorado University and his family owns a local Indian restaurant. But in December, the Colorado resident faced discrimination that led him to take recent legal action.

Khan, who was born in Bangladesh, claims that he was denied a property lease in the building of a former fried chicken restaurant because he is Muslim.

In November 2017, Craig Caldwell, who ran the restaurant, decided to close the eatery, which was located on the corner of E. 9th Avenue and Corona Street, and sublease it to another business owner, according to the lawsuit. Khan heard about the opportunity later that month and knew his family was hoping to expand their Boulder restaurant business into Capitol Hill. So he reached out to Caldwell.

On Dec. 18, Caldwell let his landlord know about Khan’s offer to sublease the property.

But the landlord, Katina Gatchis, wouldn’t let him get out of the lease because he was subleasing to a Muslim, according to a lawsuit filed by Caldwell and Khan. The documents go on to say that Gatchis told Caldwell to find “a good American person like himself or her, both of whom are white, non-Bangladeshi, and non-Muslim.”

Caldwell started recording the conversation.

He asked if the Khans were financially suitable and she said they were alright, according to the lawsuit.

Caldwell then spoke with her son, George Gatchis, about the sublease offer. The son said that his mother had rented to two Arab or Muslim people in the past and did not want to do so again, according to the lawsuit. A few days after the initial conversation, Caldwell attempted to speak with his landlord again.

She told him that she “did not like Muslims from the Middle East because they brought problems and then imitated the sounds of bombing,” the lawsuit reads.

“You can’t discriminate based on race and national origin in conveyance of property and property rights in entering a contract,” said Iris Halpern with Rathod Mohamedbhai LLC.

She is the attorney for Khan and Caldwell. She said the landlord is violating her client’s constitutional rights.

Gatchis refused to tell her side of the story and asked that a Denver7 crew leave her property Monday.

“This woman made a decision or a snap judgment based on maybe her past experiences and just put a blanket idea of who I was and who I am,” Khan said.

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