News and Press Releases

US Settles Fair Housing Lawsuit against new richmond landlords

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 2, 2012

Madison, Wis. - John W. Vaudreuil, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced today that the owner and former manager of the Lowrey Hotel and Café in New Richmond, Wisconsin, have agreed to pay $50,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging they violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating based on sex.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Madison on November 23, 2011, involved the Lowrey Hotel & Cafe, a residential hotel that often provides housing to homeless individuals who have been referred by local social service agencies. According to the complaint, Gerald Hoglund, presently of McClusky, N.D., formerly one of the hotel’s managers, sexually harassed a female tenant by making unwelcome requests to her for sexual favors. The complaint also alleged that Stacy Wright, co-manager and owner of the Lowrey Hotel & Café, LLC, warned the tenant that Hoglund might ask for sexual favors but failed to take reasonable steps to prevent it.

“It is unacceptable that a woman looking for shelter should have to endure unwanted sexual harassment at the place where she sought refuge,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

“A person’s home should be a place of complete safety and security -- no one should be subjected to unwanted sexual advances from any landlord,” said United States Attorney Vaudreuil. “This settlement reflects the United States’ commitment to ensuring that citizens in the Western District of Wisconsin have access to housing that is free from discrimination and sexual harassment.”

The federal lawsuit arose when the tenant filed a complaint with the Chicago Regional Office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which conducted an investigation and, after issuing a charge of discrimination, referred the matter fo the Department of Justice.

Under the terms of the settlement, which is subject to approval by the court, the defendants will pay the complainant $50,000 in damages. Defendants Stacy Wright and the Lowrey Hotel & Café, LLC, will also develop and maintain non-discrimination housing policies and attend fair housing training. As part of the consent decree, Gerald Hoglund is permanently enjoined from entering the premises at the Lowrey Hotel & Café and from having any involvement in the management, rental, or maintenance of any rental property.

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 should call the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, or email the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov. Individuals who believe they may have been victims of housing discrimination may also contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777.

The litigation of this matter has been handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Barbara L. Oswald.

 

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