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Press Release

Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against California Rental Property Manager and Owners

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit under the Fair Housing Act against Joel Nolen, the owner and operator of rental properties in Lassen County, California.

The lawsuit also names as defendants Shirlee Nolen and Nolen Properties LLC, the co-owners of the rental properties at the relevant times. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, alleges that Joel Nolen sexually harassed female tenants since at least 2011. According to the complaint, Nolen offered housing-related benefits in exchange for sexual contact, made unwelcome sexual comments and advances to female tenants, entered the homes of female tenants without their permission, subjected female tenants to unwelcome touching and groping, subjected female tenants to unwelcome sexual acts and took adverse housing-related actions against female tenants who refused his sexual advances.

“No one should ever feel unsafe or suffer sexual harassment in their home, especially at the hands of their housing provider,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to vigorously enforcing the Fair Housing Act and holding landlords and housing providers accountable when they sexually harass their tenants.”

“The sexual harassment and retaliation alleged in today’s complaint violates our federal fair housing laws and will not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert for the Eastern District of California. “Landlords and other housing providers who engage in such conduct will be held accountable to ensure that individuals feel safe and comfortable in their homes.”

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate persons harmed by the alleged harassment, civil penalties to vindicate the public interest and a court order barring future discrimination.

The Justice Department launched its Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative in October 2017. The initiative, which is led by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country, seeks to address and raise awareness about sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers or other people who have control over housing. Since launching the initiative, the Department of Justice has filed 27 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in housing and recovered over $9.7 million for victims of such harassment.

The 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

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 Joel Nolen, Shirlee Nolen, or Nolen Properties LLC, or who have other information that may be relevant to this case, can contact the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-833-591-0291, select 1 for English, and select option number 2, then option number 7 to leave a message. Individuals may also email the Justice Department at or submit a report online. Reports also may be made by contacting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777 or by filing a complaint online.

Updated June 9, 2023

Civil Rights
Fair Housing
Press Release Number: 23-206