Justice Department Secures Agreement with Florida Restaurant to Resolve Claims of Employment Discrimination
The Justice Department announced today that it has secured a $130,000 agreement resolving allegations that Abraham Kesary, violated the Fair Housing Act by sexually harassing multiple female tenants at the Los Angeles rental property he managed. The settlement also resolves claims against M&F Development LLC, the owner of the property.
“Tenants have the right to live in their homes free from sexual harassment by their landlords,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce fair housing laws against landlords who prey on vulnerable residents.”
“Our office will not stand for unlawful discrimination of any type,” said U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada for the Central District of California. “The lengthy course of sexual harassment against female residents alleged in this case is disturbing and unacceptable. We will continue to be vigilant in holding landlords and property managers accountable for discrimination and harassment and the Fair Housing Act gives us a powerful tool to seek justice for victims.”
Under the agreement, subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, M&F Development LLC will pay $120,000 to compensate individuals harmed by the harassment and a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States.
In addition, the consent order prohibits Kesary from managing rental housing and requires M&F Development LLC to retain an independent property manager to manage the rental property and to implement non-discrimination policies and complaint procedures to prevent sexual harassment at the property in the future. The order also requires both defendants to take fair housing training.
The lawsuit alleged that Kesary sexually harassed female tenants at 445 S. Western Avenue in Los Angeles since at least 2012. According to the complaint, Kesary offered housing-related benefits in exchange for sexual acts, made unwelcome sexual comments and advances to female tenants, entered the homes of female tenants without their permission and subjected female tenants to unwelcome sexual acts. The lawsuit also names M&F Development LLC as a defendant.
The Justice Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing 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 and other people who have control over housing. Since launching the initiative, the department has filed 36 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in housing and recovered nearly $11 million for victims of such harassment.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting people from sexual misconduct. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at www.justice.gov/crt.
Individuals may report sexual harassment or other forms of housing discrimination by calling the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-833-591-0291, or submitting a report online. Individuals may also report such discrimination by contacting HUD at 1-800-669-9777 or by filing a complaint online.