Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Two St. Louis Landlords
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against two St. Louis landlords, Hezekiah and Jameseva Webb, alleging that they violated the Fair Housing Act by subjecting female tenants in their rental properties to sexual harassment and retaliation.
The lawsuit, which arose from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) complaint, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. It alleges that Hezekiah Webb, who served as property manager for the Webbs’ rental properties, sexually harassed female tenants at their properties. The complaint alleges that such harassment included conditioning housing or housing benefits on female tenants’ agreement to engage in sexual acts; coercing female tenants to engage in unwelcome sexual acts; subjecting female tenants to unwanted sexual touching and other unwanted sexual acts; making unwelcome sexual comments and advances to female tenants and taking adverse actions against female residents when they refused the sexual advances.
“No woman should ever suffer from threats, violence or harassment in her home,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department works vigorously to enforce the Fair Housing Act by vindicating the civil rights of tenants so that all people can live in their homes and feel safe, protected and free.”
“Unwanted sexual advances or harassment make it impossible for a woman to feel safe in her home,” said Gustavo F. Velasquez, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to work with the Department of Justice to protect women from this type of unlawful treatment.”
The suit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties and a court order barring future discrimination.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination at one of the Webbs’ properties, or elsewhere, can contact the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, e-mail the Justice Department at email@example.com or contact HUD at 1-800-669-9777 or through its website at http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt.