Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Owners of Cincinnati Rental Properties
The Justice Department today announced that it has filed a lawsuit against John and Susan Klosterman alleging that female tenants in the Klostermans’ residential rental properties in Cincinnati, Ohio, were subjected to sexual harassment, coercion, intimidation, and threats in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. Each of the defendants owns or manages properties where the illegal conduct occurred.
Today’s lawsuit alleges that John Klosterman sexually harassed female residents at the rental properties from at least 2013 through the present. According to the complaint, he engaged in harassment that included, among other things, making unwelcome sexual advances and comments, engaging in unwanted sexual touching, offering to reduce rent and overlooking or excusing late or unpaid rent in exchange for sex, evicting or threatening to evict female tenants who objected to or refused sexual advances, and entering the homes of female tenants without their consent. The lawsuit further alleges that Susan Klosterman is liable under the Fair Housing Act because John Klosterman managed the rental properties on her behalf when he engaged in the harassment, coercion, intimidation, and threats.
“No woman should have to endure sexual harassment in order to remain in her home,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “Sexual harassment in housing is unacceptable and illegal, and landlords should be on notice that the Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act to combat this type of discrimination and to obtain relief for victims.”
“Fair housing is fundamental,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman. “No one should have to experience a landlord’s pervasive sexual harassment. That’s not only wrong, but also illegal under federal law. This office is committed to vigorously enforcing the protections guaranteed by the Fair Housing Act.”
In October 2017, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division announced the Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative. The Initiative specifically seeks to increase the Department’s efforts to protect individuals from harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, security guards, and other employees and representatives of rental property owners.
The Justice Department has filed or settled eight sexual harassment cases since Jan. 20, 2017, and has recovered over $1.6 million for victims of sexual harassment in housing.
Today’s lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties and a court order barring future discrimination. The complaint contains allegations of unlawful conduct. The allegations must be proven in federal court.
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 operated by John or Susan Klosterman, or who have other information that may be relevant to this case, can contact the Housing Discrimination Tip Line:
- English language: Call 1-800-896-7743, then press 1 to continue in English and select mailbox 9992 to leave a message; or
- Spanish language: Call 1-800-896-7743, then press 2 to continue in Spanish 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.