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Thursday, October 18, 2007
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Justice Department Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Red Wing, Minnesota, Landlords

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced today that Red Wing, Minn., landlords Thomas and Dawn Fischer have agreed to pay $240,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that Mr. Fischer sexually harassed female tenants in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The federal government‘s lawsuit, filed in November 2005, alleged that Thomas Fischer violated the Fair Housing Act by subjecting female tenants at rental properties he managed to severe, pervasive and unwelcome sexual harassment. The United States alleged that Fischer‘s conduct included unwanted verbal sexual advances, unwanted sexual touching, and entering the apartments of female tenants without permission or notice. The lawsuit also named Fischer‘s wife, Dawn Fischer, who co-owned the properties and alleged that as an owner she was liable for Fischer‘s discriminatory conduct. “It is intolerable that women are sexually harassed in their own homes, by the landlord who holds the key to their front door,” said Rena J. Comisac, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to prosecute these cases vigorously.” “The sexual harassment of the female tenants in this case by their landlord is an egregious violation of federal law,” said Rachel K. Paulose, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota. “This case serves as an affirmation of the Fair Housing Act, which we will continue to vigorously enforce.” Under the settlement, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, the defendants will pay $210,000 to six former tenants whom Fischer sexually harassed and $30,000 in a civil penalty to the United States. The agreement also prohibits the Fischers from engaging in future discrimination and requires them to retain an independent manager to manage their rental properties. Fighting illegal housing discrimination is a top priority of the Justice Department. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination can call our Housing Discrimination Tip Line (1-800-896-7743), e-mail us at, or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Since Jan. 1, 2001, the Justice Department‘s Civil Rights Division has filed 240 cases to enforce the Fair Housing Act, 24 of which have alleged discrimination based on sex. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at