California Landlord Settles Sexual Harassment Suit for $2.13M

The owner and manager of dozens of residential rental properties in Bakersfield, Calif., recently agreed to pay more than $2 million to settle allegations that he sexually harassed female prospects and residents. This represents the largest monetary settlement ever agreed to in a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by the Justice Department under the Fair Housing Act.

The owner has been in the real estate business for more than 30 years, according to the Justice Department. The complaint alleged that he sexually harassed the women by making unwelcome sexual comments and advances, exposing his genitals to female residents, touching women without their consent, granting and denying housing benefits based on sex, and taking adverse actions against women who refused his sexual advances.

Under the settlement, the owner must pay $2.075 million in monetary damages to 25 individuals identified as victims and a $55,000 civil penalty, the maximum allowed under the Fair Housing Act. The settlement also requires the owner to hire an independent manager to manage his rental properties and imposes strict limits on his ability to have contact with current and future residents.

“The conduct in this case was egregious,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “Women have the right to feel safe in their homes and not to be subjected to sexual harassment just because their families need housing. The Justice Department can and will vigorously prosecute landlords who violate those rights.”

Source: U.S. Department of Justice