FAIRHOUSING ADVOCATES ASSOCIATION
520 S. MAIN STREET, SUITE 2459
AKRON, OHIO 44311-1010
(330) 253-2450/(330) 996-4264-FAX
Online Contact: www.fairhousingadvocates.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE AUGUST 3, 2009
Contact: Vincent B. Curry
AKRON, OHIO On July 30, 2009, a state court jury in Dayton, Ohio returned a $246,640 verdict against a landlord, Arthur Burton, for sexually harassing a Beaver Creek, Ohio woman, Nicole McDonald, in violation of state and federal fair housing laws and state employment law.
Shortly, after moving into her apartment on April 8, 2007, she was subjected to such severe sexual harassment as a tenant and a part time employee of the landlord, that she vacated her apartment a week later. "I am glad that Ms. McDonald has been been vindicated," said Vincent B. Curry, executive director of the Fair Housing Advocates Association (FHAA). "The jury's verdict sends a clear message that landlords who prey on women and subject them despicable conduct will be held accountable for their inappropriate actions. The evidence in the case showed that Burton used sexually explicit language in his attempts to gain sex from Ms. McDonald whose occupancy lasted only a week because of the sexual harassment that she was being subjected to.
The lawsuit, filed in early 2008, in Montgomery County Court in Dayton by Ms. McDonald and FHAA, which were represented by Attorney Andrew L. Margolius, and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC), which was represented by Ohio Assistant Attorney General Duffy Jamieson, alleged that Burton subjected Ms. McDonald to severe, pervasive, and unwelcomed verbal and physical sexual advances in violation of fair housing and fair employment laws. The suit also alleged that Burton demanded sexual favors from McDonald, tied sexual favors to repairs, and otherwise retaliated against McDonald and the FHAA for exercising rights permitted by state and federal fair housing law.
Sexual harassment usually takes place against low to moderate income, single women who have limited opportunities to seek other housing, making them particularly vulnerable to harassment by a landlord.
The evidence clearly showed this landlords sexual agenda. Both fair housing law and employment law prohibit this type of interference. The jury did justice here, said Margolius.
The jury award included $75,000 in punitive damages. Burtons actions were reckless and intentional because the investigation revealed that during some of the sexual harassment, he asked Ms. McDonald not to file sexual harassment charges against him, nor to tell her mother about what he was doing to her because he did not want her mother to think that he was a bad person. No woman should be subjected to sexual harassment at any time, but especially not in the safety and comfort of her own home, said Curry.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against persons seeking housing based on their race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, handicap or familial status. The plaintiffs will file post-trial motions seeking injunctive relief such a monitoring and reporting.
Persons who believe that they have been victims of sexual harassment in housing or other housing discrimination should call the FHAA at (330) 253-2450 or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission at 1-888-278-7101. Additional information is available on FHAAs website at www.fairhousingadvocates.com.