As National Fair Housing Month comes to a close, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced three sexual harassment settlements. The Department settled the claims, made in California, Florida, and Virginia, for about $125,000 total.
“Landlords are required to comply with the Fair Housing Act, the federal law that has banned housing discrimination for the last 50 years,” said Anna Maria Farias, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “It’s against the law to harass residents of housing because of sex, disability or any another protected characteristic. The settlements we are announcing today reflect HUD’s commitment to rooting out sexual harassment and all housing discrimination as we know it.”
In California, HUD resolved allegations a landlord there “made repeated unwanted sexual advances towards a male tenant with a mental disability and ultimately evicted him for refusing the advances.” The landlord must:
- Pay the resident $12,000
- Attend Fair Housing Training
In Florida, the Jacksonville Housing Authority resolved allegations a housing authority employee sexually harassed a female resident on numerous occasions. 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 a result, the housing authority will:
- Pay the resident $75,000
- Adopt a new sexual harassment policy
- require staff to attend fair housing training
In Virginia, HUD is using a Conciliation Agreement to resolve issues at an independent living facility. A female resident claimed a male resident “harassed her with unwelcome and unsolicited advances, made suggestive comments, whistled at her, and followed her around the apartment complex.” The facility will now:
- Pay complainants $37,500
- Adopt a sexual harassment policy
People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing. April 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. In commemoration, HUD, local communities, housing advocates, and fair housing organizations across the country will conduct a variety of activities to enhance awareness of fair housing rights, highlight HUD’s fair housing enforcement efforts, and end housing discrimination in the nation. For a list of planned activities, log onto www.hud.gov/fairhousingis50.
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