|HUD No. 21-040
HUD Public Affairs
March 16, 2021
HUD CHARGES PENNSYLVANIA LANDLORDS WITH SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND RETALIATION
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it is charging the husband-and-wife owners of apartments in Oil City, Pennsylvania, with sexual harassment and retaliation against a female resident. HUD’s charge alleges that the husband groped and tried to forcibly kiss the woman when he was in her unit to perform electrical repairs. HUD’s charge further alleges that the owners retaliated against the woman and her infant child after she told the wife about the husband’s harassment. Read HUD’s charge.
"Home is the place where we all should feel safe. Unfortunately, too many women are not safe in their own homes because their housing providers or maintenance personnel subject them to unwelcome sexual advances," said Jeanine Worden, HUD's Acting Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "This is particularly true for women who reside in low-income households. Today’s action demonstrates HUD’s strong and continuing commitment to use the Fair Housing Act to combat sexual harassment in housing.”
The Fair Housing Act prohibits harassment of tenants and other forms of housing discrimination because of race, sex, color, national origin, disability, religion and familial status.
This case came to HUD's attention when the woman filed a complaint. The charge alleges that the husband co-owner of the apartments made sexual advances toward the female tenant when he was in her unit to perform repairs. The charge also alleges that when the female tenant told the wife about the harassment, the wife texted her: “You are out,” “You got 10 days,” and “You are a liar.” The female tenant and her child were subsequently evicted and charged for unpaid rent and legal fees. The housing at issue was rented using a Housing Choice Voucher.
“Women should be free from sexual harassment in their own homes,” said Damon Y. Smith, HUD’s Principal Deputy General Counsel. “HUD will vigorously enforce women’s right to enjoy their homes free from harassment or intimidation, including unwanted sexual advances.”
HUD's charge will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, the judge may award damages to the complainant for losses that have resulted from the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest.
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) 877-8339 (Relay). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to hud.gov/fairhousing.