Cleveland, Ohio - Tuesday the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that a landlord violated the Fair Housing Act by sexually harassing several female tenants of rental properties in Toledo, Ohio. This is the 12th lawsuit alleging a pattern or practice of sexual harassment in housing that the Department has filed since it launched its Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative in late 2017.
“Sexual harassment of women tenants by landlords and their agents violates the Fair Housing Act and, worse, destroys the ability of women and their families to live in peace and security. This illegal and despicable conduct inflicts emotional, psychic, and often physical pain and suffering on victims, including children,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “Anyone who preys on women and their families should be on notice: the United States Department of Justice will continue aggressively to prosecute abusers and seek justice for the victims of cruel and inhumane sexual harassment.”
“Housing instability is a contributing factor to poverty, under education, and violent crime,” said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman. “This case and cases like these are designed to use every tool that we have on the federal level to ensure that tenants remain in housing free from fear that they will be harassed, assaulted, or subjected to conditions that are unlawful.”
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, alleges that from at least 2007 through the present, Anthony Hubbard sexually harassed female tenants of rental properties that he either owned or co-owned with three other defendants — Jeffery Hubbard, Anthony’s brother; Ann Hubbard, his mother; and Pay Up LLC. Anthony Hubbard acted as an agent for his three co-defendants while engaging in many of the various acts of harassment alleged in the complaint. The United States’ complaint alleges that Anthony Hubbard engaged in severe and pervasive sexual harassment that included making unwelcome sexual advances and comments and sending sexual text messages, videos, and photos to female tenants; offering to grant benefits — such as reducing security deposits, rent amounts, and waiving late fees — in exchange for sex or sexual acts; refusing to provide maintenance services or taking other adverse housing actions such as eviction against female tenants who objected to or refused his sexual advances; entering the homes of female tenants without their consent, and expressing a preference for renting to single female tenants.
In October 2017, the Justice Department launched an initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing. In April 2018, the Department announced the nationwide rollout of the initiative, including three major components: an outreach toolkit to leverage the Department’s nationwide network of U.S. Attorney’s Offices, a public awareness campaign, including the release of a national Public Service Announcement, and a new joint Task Force with HUD to combat sexual harassment in housing.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties, and a court order barring future discrimination.