It's fitting that National Sexual Assault Awareness Month coincides with Fair Housing Month because sexual assault or harrassment is a form of sex discrimination, which the Fair Housing Act (FHA) bans.
For a recent example, just look at today's announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) about a complaint it filed yesterday against a New York City apartment building super and landlord.
The super allegedly sexually harrassed many female tenants at three apartment buildings over a period of years. According to the complaint, the super engaged in sex-based discrimination through his:
- unwanted verbal sexual advances, such as repeatedly soliciting sexual favors in exchange for reduced rent;
- unwanted sexual touching, such as grabbing;
- unwanted sexual language, including yelling obscenities to female tenants who didn't comply with sexual demands;
- conditioning the terms of tenancy on the granting of sexual favors;
- attempting to enter tenants' apartments while inebriated, demanding sex;
- granting and denying tangible housing benefits (such as mail delivery and making repairs) based on sex; and
- taking adverse action (such as threatening eviction) against female tenants who refused or objected to his sexual advances.
The super and the landlord must now defend themselves in court against the DOJ, which seeks monetary damages, civil penalties, punitive damages, and injunctive relief.
Return tomorrow for the twenty-third part of this special "Fair Housing Month" feature at Fairhousingblog.com.