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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Pushes For Increased Response To Eradicate Sexual Harassment In Housing Amid COVID-19 Crisis

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Georgia

MACON, Ga. – Charlie Peeler, the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, is urging law enforcement and community partners to join with the United States Attorney’s Office in eradicating sexual harassment in housing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In a message sent to law enforcement and community partners across the Middle District last week, U.S. Attorney Peeler reminded stakeholders that sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers and others, with control over housing may violate the federal Fair Housing Act. The Department of Justice (DOJ), through the Civil Rights Division and United States Attorney’s Offices, remains unwavering in the enforcement of this vital statute.

“As a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis, many in our communities have found themselves out of work, furloughed, or otherwise in dire financial straits. As a result, folks have been forced to seek abatements or suspensions of their rent, or seek other accommodations during this time.  While many landlords and housing providers have responded with understanding, there are reports that others have seen an opportunity to exploit the financially vulnerable through demands for sexual acts and other unwelcome sexual conduct. This appalling behavior is illegal and will not be tolerated,” stated U.S. Attorney Peeler in his message to law enforcement and community partners.

The Fair Housing act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin and disability. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and DOJ are the federal agencies that enforce the Fair Housing Act, with each playing an important role. Both agencies have launched special initiatives focused specifically on combatting sexual harassment in housing.

The public is encouraged to report sexual harassment in housing to the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division by calling (844) 380-6178 or emailing To preserve their rights, individuals should also file a complaint with HUD through HUD’s website or by calling (800) 669-9777.

Launched in 2017, the Justice Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative is an effort to combat sexual harassment in housing led by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country. For more information, please visit

Questions can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362.

Updated June 8, 2020