Michigan Landlords Accused of Sexually Harassing Residents

The Justice Department recently announced that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that the owners of rental properties in Michigan violated fair housing law by subjecting female residents to sexual harassment and retaliation.

The lawsuit alleges that one of the owners sexually harassed female residents from at least 2008 to 2018. According to the complaint, he made repeated and unwelcome sexual comments, touched female residents’ bodies without their consent, requested sexual favors, offered reduced or free rent in exchange for sex, and retaliated against female residents who refused his sexual advances. The lawsuit also names as defendants the co-owners of several of the rental properties where the harassment allegedly occurred.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties to vindicate the public interest, and a court order barring future discrimination. The complaint contains allegations of unlawful conduct; the allegations must be proven in federal court.

“No woman should be forced to suffer sexual harassment to keep her home,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, of 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 will vigorously pursue those who engage in such reprehensible and illegal conduct.”

The Justice Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative is an effort to combat sexual harassment in housing led by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country. The Attorney General recently reaffirmed this commitment by directing the Justice Department to deploy all available enforcement tools against anyone who tries to capitalize on the COVID-19 crisis by sexually harassing people in need of housing.