Sexual Harassment Claim Costs Virginia Rental Manager, Owners $335K to Settle

The Justice Department recently announced that a manager of rental properties in and around Harrisonburg, Va., together with owners of the properties, will pay $335,000 to resolve allegations that the manager sexually harassed multiple female residents and discriminated in housing on the basis of race in violation of federal fair housing law.

The settlement resolves a complaint alleging that the manager violated fair housing law by making unwelcome sexual comments and advances toward female residents, offering housing benefits in exchange for sexual acts, and taking or threatening adverse housing actions against women who refused his sexual demands. The complaint also alleges that the manager violated the law by using racial slurs with respect to residents and their guests, and by prohibiting or attempting to prohibit residents from entertaining African-American guests in their homes because of the guests’ race.

Under the settlement, the defendants will pay $330,000 to compensate eight victims of discrimination already identified by the Justice Department, together with any additional individuals who may have been harmed by defendants’ discriminatory conduct. In addition, defendants must pay $5,000 as a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest. The consent decree also bars the manager from participating in the management of rental properties in the future and requires defendants to take other steps to prevent future discrimination.

“No woman should ever have to endure abusive and demeaning sexual harassment to secure housing for herself or her family, nor should any individual be subjected to vile racial harassment or other race discrimination related to housing,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “Such conduct is both illegal and reprehensible, and the Justice Department will work vigorously and tirelessly to combat these types of discrimination and obtain relief for victims.”