Fla. PHA to Pay $100K to Settle Sexual Harassment Claim

A public housing provider in Florida recently agreed to pay a $100,000 settlement to resolve a female resident’s allegations of sexual harassment and retaliation.

The case began when the resident filed a HUD complaint, alleging that one of the provider’s maintenance workers subjected her to a severe incident of sexual harassment. The woman alleged that the housing authority retaliated against her after she reported the alleged incident.

Fair housing law prohibits housing providers, including a public housing authority (PHA) and its staff, to sexually harass a tenant. This includes creating a severe or pervasive hostile housing environment, or conditioning housing or housing-related services on the tenant's acquiescence to sexual demands. The law also prohibits retaliation against persons who complain about housing discrimination.

Under the terms of the agreement approved by HUD, the housing authority agreed to pay the resident $100,000, move her to a three-bedroom apartment once an appropriate unit becomes available, and provide her with a parking space close to her unit. In addition, the authority will ensure that a female employee is in the woman's apartment anytime maintenance work is being performed; create a policy prohibiting sexual harassment of applicants, residents, and voucher holders; establish a formal sexual harassment complaint procedure; and provide sexual harassment training for employees.

"When people think of home, they think about safety, security, a place to create lasting memories—not about being subjected to unwanted sexual advances or degrading treatment," Anna María Farías, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in a statement. "No one should have to suffer the humiliation and fear sexual harassment causes in order to keep a roof over her head, and HUD is committed to taking action to address it whenever and wherever it occurs."