The Justice Department announced it has filed a lawsuit today in the federal district court for the Western District of Michigan against the owners and manager of Alger Meadow Apartments in Grand Rapids, Mich., alleging that the manager has sexually harassed tenants in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
The lawsuit alleges that Dale VanderVennen, manager at Alger Meadow Apartments, has sexually harassed female residents at the complex. The complaint alleges that such harassment has included unwelcome sexual advances, touching female residents without their consent, entering the apartments of female residents without permission and notice, granting and denying tangible housing benefits based on sex; and taking adverse actions against female tenants when they refused his sexual advances.
"No person should be subject to sexual harassment in their own home, especially when that harassment comes from someone who holds the key to the front door," said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.
“This office is committed to addressing civil rights violations and enforcing federal civil rights law” said Patrick A. Miles, Jr. U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan. “Women should not face this type of discrimination and harassment when making housing choices.”
The suit also names as defendants the owners and/or managers of Alger Meadow Apartments: Jack VanderVennen, Linda VanderVennen, DDJ Rental Real Estate LLC, Calcutta Associates LLC, and LLJ LLC .
The suit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, a civil penalty and a court order barring future discrimination.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination at Alger Meadows or have other information about this matter can contact the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, option 5, or e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com . Persons who believe that they have experienced unlawful housing discrimination elsewhere can contact the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org , or contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.
The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must be proven in federal court.