In a case demonstrating the intersection between housing and unlawful sexual harassment, just last week the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) filed a federal lawsuit against the Kansas City, KS Housing Authority and its former hearing officer. In the complaint, the DOJ alleges that the former hearing officer harassed a woman who was applying for housing as well as another woman who already was public housing resident in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
The lawsuit contends that the hearing officer subjected these two women to unwanted conduct (including asking them sexual questions, showing them inappropriate videos and pictures, making explicit comments, and exposing himself) as a condition for favorable hearing decisions. The complaint asserts that the hearing officer engaged in this conduct while he was an employee of the Housing Authority. The women initially filed discrimination complaints with HUD. Following an investigation, HUD issued a formal charge of discrimination and referred the matter to DOJ. While the case is now getting started, DOJ has also requested that others who may have been victims reach out to a toll-free telephone number or email DOJ’s fair housing group.
As a defense lawyer, I know there are at least two sides to every story. With this post, I am not passing judgment on the merits of the case, I am only pointing out how the FHA protects residents and housing applicants from unwanted and/or inappropriate sexual conduct related to their housing rights.
Just A Thought.