The Department of Housing and Urban Development has agreed to settle out of court in three states with housing industry participants over sexual harassment charges. The move comes after the HUD recently announced plans to combat sexual harassment in the housing industry.
The HUD said it had settled with housing authorities in California, Florida and Virginia, in a deal that will see around $125,000 compensation paid to victims.
“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.”
With regards to the Florida settlement, one female resident complained that she was sexually harassed on a number of occasions by an employee of the housing authority. The harassment allegedly included unwelcome sexual comments, and requests for sexual favors, together with the threat of eviction if she didn’t go along with the requests.
The HUD said it had reached a voluntary compliance and conciliation agreement with a Jacksonville-based housing authority in relation to the charges. The authority agreed to pay compensation to the woman of $75,000, and adopt a new policy on sexual harassment. The agreement also sees the authority’s staff undergo fair housing training.
The HUD reached a similar agreement with a Virgina independent living facility in order to resolve complaints that the facility didn’t take reasonable steps to prevent one of its tenants from sexually harassing another tenant. The accuser was compensated with $37,500 in that case.
As for the California case, this involved allegations that a landlord repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances towards a male tenant with a mental disability. The tenant was evicted for refusing the landlord’s advances, he alleged. As a result, the landlord has agree to pay $12,000 in compensation to the male resident.