Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Pennsylvania Rental Property Owners and Operators
The Justice Department announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against Timothy Britton, the owner and operator of rental properties in the Falls Creek, Pennsylvania, area and Britton Enterprises LLC, doing business as “Tim’s Apartments,” which operates the rental properties, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleges that Timothy Britton has sexually harassed female tenants since at least 2016. According to the complaint, Britton made repeated and unwelcome sexual comments to female tenants, touched female tenants’ bodies without their permission, requested sexual contact, offered reduced or free rent in exchange for sexual contact and took retaliatory actions against female tenants who refused his sexual advances.
“In this day and age, no one should have to endure sexual harassment to keep a roof over their head,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This lawsuit makes clear that the Justice Department stands ready to hold accountable those landlords and housing providers who unlawfully harass and retaliate against tenants. We encourage survivors to speak out when their rights are violated so that we can vindicate their fair housing rights and secure the relief they deserve.”
“The complaint alleges that Mr. Britton has violated federal fair housing laws through acts of sexual harassment and retaliation,” said Acting U. S. Attorney Troy Rivetti for the Western District of Pennsylvania. “The harm caused by this type of unlawful behavior is compounded when committed by someone who has control over the place where individuals have the right to feel the most safe – in their homes. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to protecting vulnerable members of our community and holding individuals accountable who prey upon them.”
“It is unacceptable and illegal to subject tenants to sexual harassment and retaliation; it must stop. Tenants deserve a safe place to call home,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Demetria L. McCain of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to work with the Justice Department to hold housing providers accountable and work toward justice for those whose civil rights have been violated.”
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.
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 Timothy Britton or Britton Enterprises, 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 2 to leave a message. Individuals may also e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com 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.
The Justice Department launched its Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative in October 2017. The department’s initiative is led by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with U.S. Attorneys’ offices across the country. The initiative 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 32 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in housing and recovered over $10.8 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 www.justice.gov/crt.