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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Minnesota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 29, 2020

U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald Cautions Against Predatory Practices Related To COVID-19 And Housing

United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald announced today that, during the COVID-19 crisis, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is reaffirming its commitment under the Fair Housing Act to combat sexual harassment in housing.

As the nation adopts measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, many Americans have lost their jobs, have been furloughed, or have seen a drastic reduction in their wages. As a result, many Americans have been unable to pay rent. According to a recent memo from the Attorney General, there have been reports of landlords who have responded to requests to defer rent payments with demands for sexual favors and other acts of unwelcome sexual conduct. Such behavior is illegal under the Fair Housing Act, which 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 prohibited by the Act.

“Sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, and others may constitute a violation of the federal Fair Housing Act. Such behavior is despicable and it is illegal,” said U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office stands ready to investigate complaints of sexual harassment in housing and to deploy all available enforcement tools against anyone who engages in this behavior. This behavior is not tolerated in normal times, and certainly, will not be tolerated now.”

If you think you are a victim of sexual harassment by a landlord, or other person who has control over housing, resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, contact the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at (800) 896-7743 or fairhousing@usdoj.gov. Or, contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (612) 664-5600 or USAMN.Outreach@usdoj.gov.

Department of Justice public service announcement: Sexual Harassment in Housing Is Illegal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z76bA-mf7o0&t

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

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United States Attorney’s Office, District of Minnesota: (612) 664-5600

 

Topic(s): 
Coronavirus
Civil Rights
Component(s): 
Updated April 29, 2020