U.S. Attorney’s Office Hosts Discussion to Address Sexual Harassment in Housing

By 
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

A recent roundtable discussion was hosted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska and the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to bring together community organizations to address the problem of sexual harassment in housing.

Topics included fair housing and human rights organizations as well as legal aid offices, which are likely to work with victims of sexual harassment in housing, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney Joe Kelly.

“Landlords or superintendents using the power they have over tenants to extort sexual acts, or even commit assaults, is intolerable,” Kelly said. “Our office is dedicated to uncovering such violations where they exist and vigorously enforcing the law.”

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin or disability. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination under the act.

The DOJ’s nationwide Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative seeks to identify barriers to reporting sexual harassment in housing and to increase awareness of enforcement efforts.

“Our office is working closely with the Civil Rights Division to spread the word here in Nebraska about options to help people experiencing sexual harassment or who experienced sexual harassment in housing in the past,” according to a DOJ news release.

The DOJ encourages community organizations and local law enforcement to recommend that victims report sexual harassment to the Civil Rights Division.

“Local police departments or legal aid offices may be able to help victims, if the behavior is a crime or if there is an imminent eviction,” the news release states.

The DOJ brings cases each year that involve egregious conduct such as allegations that defendants have exposed themselves sexually to current or prospective tenants, requested sexual acts in exchange for reduced rents or making necessary repairs, made unrelenting and unwanted sexual advances to tenants and evicted tenants who resisted their sexual overtures.

Investigations have shown that such sexual harassment cases often occur for years and involves many victims who never report it.

Anyone who experienced sexual harassment in housing, or who knows someone who has, should contact the Civil Rights Division by calling 844-380-6178 or emailing fairhousing@usdoj.gov.

Victims can contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nebraska at 402-661-3700. Find more at justice.gov/usao-ne.

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