Real Estate

HUD reaches sexual harassment settlements in three states

Landlords, housing authority in Florida, Virginia, and California fined

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Monday that it reached sexual harassment settlements with housing industry participants in three different states.

The settlements come on the heels of HUD announcing an initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing.

Under the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to discriminate against individuals based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability. Sexual harassment is a form of illegal sex discrimination.

The three settlements come from Florida, Virginia, and California.

The Florida settlement comes in the form of a voluntary compliance agreement/conciliation agreement that was reached with a Jacksonville housing authority.

The settlement resolves allegations that a female resident was sexually harassed on multiple occasions by a housing authority employee.

According to HUD, the alleged harassment included unwelcome sexual comments, requests for sex or sexual favors, and threats of eviction if the tenant did not submit to such requests. 

As part of the settlement, the housing authority agreed to pay the resident $75,000, adopt a new sexual harassment policy, and require staff to attend fair housing training. 

Additionally, HUD reached a conciliation agreement with an independent living facility in Virginia. The agreement resolved allegations that the facility did not take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of a female tenant by another tenant. 

The female tenant accused a male tenant of harassing her with unwelcome and unsolicited advances, made suggestive comments, whistled at her, and followed her around the apartment complex.  

As part of the settlement, the facility agreed to pay complainants $37,500 and adopt a sexual harassment policy.

Finally, HUD reached a conciliation agreement with a California landlord who was accused of making repeated unwanted sexual advances towards a male tenant with a mental disability. The landlord allegedly ultimately evicted the male resident for refusing the advances.

According to HUD, the landlord agreed to pay the tenant $12,000 and attend fair housing training.

In total, the three settlements will bring approximately $125,000 in relief for the complainants.

“Landlords are required to comply with the Fair Housing Act, the federal law that has banned housing discrimination for the last 50 years,” Anna Maria Farias, HUD assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, said.

“It’s against the law to harass residents of housing because of sex, disability or any another protected characteristic,” Farias added. “The settlements we are announcing today reflect HUD’s commitment to rooting out sexual harassment and all housing discrimination as we know it.”

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