Justice Department Files Sexual Harassment Lawsuit in West Virginia Against Owner and Property Managers of Perkins Parke Apartments
The Justice Department announced it has filed a lawsuit against Encore Management Co. Inc., Perkins Parke Limited Partnership and three former employees of Perkins Parke Apartments in Cross Lanes, West Virginia, alleging that female tenants have been subjected to sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
The lawsuit, filed today in federal court for the Southern District of West Virginia, alleges that Perkins Parke’s district manager, Anthony James, and maintenance worker, Christopher T. James, have sexually harassed female tenants at the complex, and that Perkins Parke’s site manager, Kisha James, failed to take appropriate steps when residents complained about the harassment. The complaint alleges that such harassment has included entering the residences of female tenants without permission or notice; conditioning housing or housing benefits on female tenants’ agreement to engage in sexual acts; coercing female tenants to engage in unwelcome sexual acts; making unwelcome sexual comments and unwelcome sexual advances to female tenants; subjecting female tenants to unwanted sexual touching and other unwanted sexual acts; and taking adverse actions against female residents when they refused the sexual advances or reported the unwelcome conduct.
“No woman should have to live in fear of sexual harassment in her home,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta for the Civil Rights Division. “The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from sexual harassment and retaliation by their landlords, and the Justice Department enforces the Fair Housing Act to vindicate these important rights.”
“Safe and secure housing is one of humanity’s most basic needs,” said U.S. Attorney R. Booth Goodwin for the Southern District of West Virginia. “Threats to that safety and security, such as those alleged in the complaint, and making housing available contingent upon the performance of unwelcome acts is both a violation of federal law and human decency and will not be tolerated.“
“These housing providers preyed on poor women by sexually harassing them and retaliating against them,” said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD is committed to working with the Justice Department to stop this unacceptable and illegal behavior.” The suit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties, and a court order barring future discrimination.
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 housing discrimination at Perkins Parke Apartments 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.
The complaint is an allegation of unlawful conduct. The allegations must be proven in federal court.