WASHINGTON — The Justice Department today filed a lawsuit against Calvert Properties Inc. and company president, Harold W. Calvert, alleging a pattern or practice of sexual harassment of female tenants.
The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, alleges that Calvert and his company engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination based on sex. Specifically, the complaint alleges that Harold Calvert subjected female tenants to unwanted verbal sexual advances; unwanted physical sexual advances; forcible physical contact with the sexual parts of his body; inappropriate statements; and threats of eviction when they refused or objected to his sexual advances. The complaint also alleges that Calvert Properties did not take reasonable preventive or corrective measures to curtail and prevent the discriminatory conduct of Harold Calvert.
“Housing is a fundamental need, and no woman should be victimized while trying to obtain shelter for herself and her family,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “Landlords looking to prey on their female tenants should be on notice: The Department of Justice has stepped up our enforcement of this immoral and illegal behavior.”
“Individuals are entitled to live securely in their residences without being subjected to discriminatory and degrading treatment by landlords acting as sexual predators,” said U.S. Attorney Bradley J. Schlozman. “The abuse – both physical and emotional – evidenced by the tenants in this case is simply unconscionable and will not be tolerated by this Department.”
The suit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties, and a court order barring future discrimination.
Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. Since January 21, 2001, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has almost doubled the number of cases alleging a pattern or practice of sexual harassment by landlords as compared to the preceding five and-a-half years. In February 2006, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced Operation Home Sweet Home, a concentrated initiative to expose and eliminate housing discrimination in America. This initiative was inspired by the plight of displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina who were suddenly forced to find new places to live. Operation Home Sweet Home is not limited to the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina, and targets housing discrimination all over the country.
For more information about Operation Home Sweet Home, please visit our Web site, http://www.usdoj.gov/fairhousing. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call our Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743), email us at email@example.com, or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777. For more information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces, go to http://www.usdoj.gov/crt.