Owner of California Rental Properties Sued for Sexual Harassment

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

The lawsuit alleges that the owner engaged in sexual harassment of and retaliation against female residents from at least 2005 to the present, by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome sexual touching, offering to reduce monthly rental payments in exchange for sex, making unwelcome sexual comments and advances, making intrusive and unannounced visits to their homes to further his sexual advances, and evicting or threatening to evict female residents who objected or refused his sexual advances. The complaint contains allegations of unlawful conduct; the allegations must be proven in federal court.

“The Fair Housing Act prohibits sexual harassment and retaliation in housing,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a statement. “Any landlord who sexually harasses his tenants or retaliates against them for refusing sexual advances destroys their housing security, and risks families’ ability to keep a roof over their heads. Anyone who engages in this kind of disgusting and illegal conduct should be on notice: The Department of Justice will be coming for you.”

In the June 2019 lesson, the Coach focused on sexual harassment, a fair housing issue that has occupied center stage in the past few years. In 2017, the Justice Department launched an initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing. Last year, the department announced the nationwide rollout of the initiative, including a new joint task force with HUD to combat sexual harassment in housing. Since launching the initiative, the department has filed 10 lawsuits alleging a pattern or practice of sexual harassment in housing. To read more, see the June 2019 lesson, “Hot Topics in Fair Housing Law,” available to our subscribers here.