CHARLESTON – The U.S. Justice Department says the owner and former property manager of a Cross Lanes apartment complex has agreed to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit.
Perkins Parke Apartments has agreed to pay $120,000 in damages and civil penalties to settle the suit alleging that three former agents sexually harassed and retaliated against female tenants, which is a violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA).
The goverment's complaint, filed in November 2014, alleged that Perkins Parke’s district manager Anthony James and maintenance worker Christopher T. James sexually harassed female tenants at the complex and that Perkins Parke’s site manager Kisha James failed to take appropriate steps when tenants complained about the harassment.
The complaint alleged that the harassment included entering the residences of female tenants without permission or notice; coercing female tenants to engage in unwelcome sexual acts; making unwelcome sexual comments and unwelcome sexual advances to female tenants; subjecting female tenants to unwanted sexual touching and other unwanted sexual acts; and taking adverse actions against female residents when they refused the sexual advances or reported the unwelcome conduct.
This lawsuit arose as a result of complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by five tenants. After an investigation of the complaints, HUD issued a charge of discrimination and referred the case to Justice Department.
The settlement, which is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of West Virginia, requires Perkins’ Parke former property manager, Encore Management Company Inc., and the property’s owner, Perkins Parke LP, to pay $110,000 to eleven victims of sexual harassment and $10,000 to the United States as a civil penalty. The settlement resolves the lawsuit with respect to Encore Management Company Inc. and Perkins Parke LP, but not the individual defendants.
“Women and their families should not be subjected to sexual harassment in their homes,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “The Civil Rights Division will continue to vindicate the rights of those who are subject to sexual harassment.”
“Few things are more fundamental to success and happiness than having a safe place to live” U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said. “Everyone has a right to live in a safe environment, free from harassment of any kind.
"Put simply, apartment owners must ensure that their managers and staff respect these basic rights and understand that violations will not be tolerated.”
“Women trying to provide a home for their families should not have to suffer the indignity of having to submit to unwanted sexual demands in order to keep that housing,” said Gustavo Velasquez, Assistant Secretary for HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office. “Today's settlement sends a loud and clear message to property owners and managers that HUD and the Justice Department are committed to addressing practices that violate the rights of women.”