New York Landlord Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The Justice Department recently announced that the owner and manager of rental properties in New York will be obligated to pay $850,000 in damages and civil penalties to resolve two fair housing lawsuits alleging that he sexually harassed numerous female applicants and residents for nearly three decades. The government filed one of the lawsuits and a group of private individuals brought the other.

In its 2018 complaint, the Justice Department alleged that the landlord, his business partner, and two related entities operated an extensive real estate business involving more than 50 residential rental properties in and around Oswego, N.Y. The complaint alleged that the landlord subjected former residents and potential residents of these homes to sexual harassment, including unwanted sexual intercourse, sexual advances and comments, groping, or other touching of their bodies without consent, and offers to reduce or eliminate security deposits and rent in exchange for sexual contact. The complaint also accused him of taking or threatening to take adverse action against residents when they refused or objected to his advances.

Under the settlement, the defendants agreed to pay a total of $450,000, which includes $400,000 in monetary damages to former residents and potential residents who were harmed as a result of the alleged sexual harassment, as well as a $50,000 civil penalty. Additionally, the defendants will pay $400,000 to compensate nine individuals in the related private suit. The settlement also bars the landlord from participating in the rental or management of residential properties.

“The sexual harassment of the vulnerable female applicants and tenants in this case by their landlord is an egregious and intolerable violation of federal civil rights law,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a statement. “The Department of Justice will continue to pursue any depraved landlords and others who prey upon vulnerable women.”