HUD and the Department of Justice continue to monitor compliance with and enforce the Fair Housing Act (FHA). As I have written many times before, management needs to train our employees to follow the law. Examples of misconduct can be found from Alaska to Florida -- and just about everywhere in between. For example, earlier this month the DOJ announced a $95,000 settlement to resolve a lawsuit filed last year alleging that the former community manager of Park Towers Apartments in Waterloo, Iowa, sexually harassed female tenants at the complex.
According to the allegations, which followed housing discrimination complaints filed with HUD, a former community manager repeatedly made unwelcome and offensive sexual comments and gestures toward two women residing at the property he managed. The former employee also was alleged to have suggested the women could exchange sex for rent, cable service, and other housing services. The charge concluded that the employee's actions were sufficiently severe and pervasive to unreasonably interfere with the women's tenancy and cause them emotional distress, economic loss, and other damages. The two women eventually moved from the apartment complex.The consent decree, pending approval by the court, will require the defendants to pay $80,000 to 10 victims and $15,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. The consent decree also prohibits the defendants from engaging in discrimination and contains a provision preventing the former employee from returning to work in the management, rental or maintenance of rental housing.
This type of case and settlement also serves as a warning to all of us in the professional apartment management field that we can be held accountable if our employees engage in or enable others to engage in acts of sexual harassment against residents.
Just a Thought.