DOJ: Manager, Maintenance Worker Sexually Harassed Residents

Earlier this month, the Justice Department sued a West Virginia community, alleging that a maintenance worker and a manager sexually harassed female residents, and that the community’s site manager failed to take appropriate steps when residents complained about the harassment.

According to the complaint, the harassment included entering the residences of female residents without permission or notice; conditioning housing or housing benefits on female residents’ agreement to engage in sexual acts; coercing female residents to engage in unwelcome sexual acts; making unwelcome sexual comments and unwelcome sexual advances to female residents; subjecting female residents to unwanted sexual touching and other unwanted sexual acts; and taking adverse actions against female residents when they refused the sexual advances or reported the unwelcome conduct. The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct; the allegations must be proven in federal court.

“No woman should have to live in fear of sexual harassment in her home,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division said in a statement. “The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from sexual harassment and retaliation by their landlords, and the Justice Department enforces the Fair Housing Act to vindicate these important rights.”

“These housing providers preyed on poor women by sexually harassing them and retaliating against them,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is committed to working with the Justice Department to stop this unacceptable and illegal behavior.”

The Coach’s December lesson reviews fair housing law and offers strategies on how to avoid discrimination complaints when providing residents with maintenance and repair services. For more information, see “Maintaining Your Community Without Violating Fair Housing Law,” available to subscribers here.