NYC Landlord to Pay $2M+ Settlement in Sexual Harassment Case

May 18, 2012
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In early May, the owner and managers of three residential buildings in Manhattan agreed to pay more than $2 million to resolve allegations that they discriminated on the basis of sex and subjected numerous female residents to severe, unwelcome, and pervasive sexual harassment. This is the largest recovery ever in a sexual harassment suit brought by the United States under the Fair Housing Act.

According to the complaint, the owner hired a Level 3 registered sex offender to serve as the superintendent of the properties. While employed in that role, the superintendent allegedly sexually harassed female residents by attempting to enter their apartments while inebriated and demanding sex; engaging in unwelcome groping and fondling; subjecting them to unwanted verbal sexual advances; demanding sexual favors in return for tangible housing benefits such as rent reductions; and taking adverse actions against women who refused to comply with his demands for sex.

The complaint also accused the owner’s son, who was hired to manage the properties, of creating a hostile environment for female residents by repeatedly subjecting them to vulgar and offensive epithets because of their gender, threatening them, and engaging in other intimidating, humiliating, and abusive behavior.

According to the complaint, the owner was aware of his employees’ sexual harassment of the residents, but failed to take any steps to halt the harassment despite receiving numerous complaints.

The settlement, which includes payment of more than $2 million to six residents who were alleged to have been the victims of the harassment and $55,000 in civil penalties, represents the largest recovery ever in a sexual harassment suit brought by the United States under the Fair Housing Act. In addition, the settlement permanently bans the superintendent from having any involvement in the management or maintenance of occupied rental housing properties.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York