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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Ohio

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

United States Files Lawsuit Against Sedamsville Landlord and His Wife for Discriminating Against Female Tenants

CINCINNATI – The Justice Department filed a civil complaint today in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Ohio alleging a Sedamsville landlord violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against female tenants.

 

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, announced the filing against John Klosterman and his wife Susan Klosterman, both of Cincinnati.

 

According to the complaint, from 2013 to the present, John Klosterman owned or had an ownership interest in at least 55 residential properties in the Sedamsville neighborhood of Cincinnati. He controlled accepting or rejecting prospective tenants, settings rates for rent and security deposits, collecting rent, accepting requests for repairs and evicting tenants.

 

The complaint alleges Klosterman subjected female tenants of his properties to discrimination on the basis of sex, including severe, pervasive and unwelcome sexual harassment, on multiple occasions.

 

The conduct included unwelcome sexual advances, unwanted sexual text messages and photos, touching female tenants without their consent and offering to reduce the rent and overlook late or unpaid rent in exchange for sex.

 

The complaint further alleges that Klosterman evicted tenants or refused to make repairs for female tenants who refused the sexual advances.

 

Klosterman allegedly preferred renting to single female tenants and took adverse housing actions against female tenants upon learning that they were not single.

 

Finally, the complaint alleges he entered the homes of his female tenants without their consent and monitored their daily activities with cameras directed at their units and through other means.

 

“No woman should have to endure sexual harassment in order to remain in her home,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “Sexual harassment in housing is unacceptable and illegal, and landlords should be on notice that the Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act to combat this type of discrimination and to obtain relief for victims.”

 

“Fair housing is fundamental,” said U.S. Attorney Glassman. “No one should have to experience a landlord’s pervasive sexual harassment. That’s not only wrong, but also illegal under federal law. This office is committed to vigorously enforcing the protections guaranteed by the Fair Housing Act.”

 

U.S. Attorney Glassman commended Deputy Civil Chief Matthew J. Horwitz and Trial Attorney Kathryn Ladewski of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, who are representing the United States in this case.

 

In October 2017, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division announced the Sex Harassment in Housing Initiative (SHI). The Initiative specifically seeks to increase the Department’s efforts to protect individuals from harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, security guards and other employees and representatives of rental property owners.

 

The Justice Department has filed or settled seven sexual harassment cases since January 2017, and has recovered over $1 million for victims of sexual harassment in housing.

 

Today’s lawsuit seeks monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties, and a court order barring future discrimination. The complaint contains allegations of unlawful conduct. The allegations must be proven in federal court.

 

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 sexual harassment or other types of housing discrimination at rental dwellings owned or operated by John or Susan Klosterman, or who have other information that may be relevant to this case, can contact the Housing Discrimination Tip Line:

 

  • English language: Call 1-800-896-7743, then press 1 to continue in English and select mailbox 9992 to leave a message; or
  • Spanish language: Call 1-800-896-7743, then press 2 to continue in Spanish and select mailbox 6 to leave a message.

 

Individuals can also report sexual harassment and other forms of housing discrimination by e-mailing the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov.

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Component(s): 
Contact: 
jennifer.thornton@usdoj.gov
Updated March 21, 2018