Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 15, 2019

The Department of Justice Files Amended Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Owner and Manager of Rental Properties in Lexington, Tennessee

The Department of Justice today announced that it has filed an amended complaint in its lawsuit against a Lexington, Tennessee, landlord, Chad David Ables, alleging that he violated the Fair Housing Act by subjecting female tenants of his rental properties to sexual harassment and retaliation.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, alleges that Ables, who owns and manages rental properties in Henderson County, including a mobile home park called “Pops Cove,” sexually harassed a number of female tenants at his properties. For example, according to the government’s complaint, Ables conditioned housing or housing benefits on female tenants’ agreement to engage in sexual acts; subjected at least one female tenant to unwanted sexual touching; made unwelcome sexual comments and advances to female tenants; and took adverse housing-related actions against female residents when they refused his sexual advances.

“No woman should ever be subjected to sexual harassment or intimidation in her home,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from harassment and retaliation by their landlords, and the Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce this law and seek relief for victims.”

“Every person in this district deserves the right to live in a place of their choosing without fear of sexual harassment.  This is not a small town issue or a big city issue, but an issue of respect and dignity. We want the women and men through all of west Tennessee to know that there’s someone they can turn to if they feel unsafe in their home – no matter where their home is," said U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant for the Western District of Tennessee.

“Property owners and landlords who use their position to harass residents or to attempt to trade sexual favors for rent violate the sanctity of an individual's home, the place where they should feel the safest," said Anna María Faría, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to work with the Justice Department to take action against housing providers that violate the Fair Housing Act by engaging in this type of behavior.”

The lawsuit arose from complaints about Ables’s conduct that two women filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After HUD investigated the complaints, it issued a charge of discrimination and the matter was referred to the Department of Justice. The Department of Justice filed an initial complaint in December, 2018 on behalf of the two complainants. The amended complaint alleges that the defendant harassed several additional female tenants.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, a civil penalty to vindicate the public interest, and a court order barring future discrimination and harassment. The complaint contains allegations of unlawful conduct; the allegations must be proven in federal court.

In October 2017, the Department of Justice launched an initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing. In April 2018, the Department announced the nationwide rollout of the initiative, including three major components: a new joint Task Force with HUD to combat sexual harassment in housing, an outreach toolkit to leverage the Department’s nationwide network of U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and a public awareness campaign, including the release of a national Public Service Announcement.

Since launching the initiative, the Department of Justice has filed nine lawsuits alleging a pattern or practice of sexual harassment in housing. The Department of Justice has filed or settled 14 sexual harassment cases since January 2017, and has recovered over $1.6 million for victims of sexual harassment in housing.

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 http://www.justice.gov/crt. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of sexual harassment or other types of housing discrimination at rental dwellings owned or managed by Chad David Ables, or who have other information that may be relevant to this case, can contact the Housing Discrimination Tip Line, at 1-800-896-7743, and select mailbox 6 to leave a message.

Individuals can also report sexual harassment and other forms of housing discrimination by e-mailing the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov.

Updated April 15, 2019