|HUD No. 22-248
HUD Public Affairs
December 8, 2022
HUD Charges Colorado Landlord with Harassment and Retaliation
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has charged Vernon Morgan, the owner of a house in Greeley, Colorado, with discrimination for subjecting a female tenant to harassment and retaliation because of sex. Read HUD's Charge.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing providers from discriminating because of sex, including harassing tenants. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances and comments, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical behavior that is sexual in nature. Harassment because of sex can also include conduct that is not necessarily sexual, such as offensive conduct or remarks pertaining to a tenant's actual or perceived sex.
"No one should feel harassed or unsafe in their own home because of their sex, and no one should fear escalated harassment or retaliation when trying to enforce their fair housing rights," said Demetria L. McCain, HUD's Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "As this charge demonstrates, HUD will stand with tenants to eradicate sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination by landlords."
HUD's Charge of Discrimination alleges that Morgan harassed the tenant because of her sex. Morgan's harassing conduct allegedly included frequent unwelcome invitations to meals, trips, and other activities; sexual and/or gendered innuendos, comments, and gestures; derogatory and belittling comments; and peering into the tenant's windows from outside the property. According to the Charge, after the tenant told Morgan that his conduct was unwelcome and constituted sexual harassment, she pursued a protection order against him and reported the harassment to the local police. Morgan then retaliated against the tenant and sought to evict her. The Charge further alleges that because of Morgan's illegal actions, the tenant was forced to vacate her home.
"Landlords who subject tenants to harassment, discriminatory statements, and retaliation because of sex violate the Fair Housing Act," said HUD General Counsel Damon Smith. "HUD is committed to enforcing the Act and holding those landlords accountable."
A United States Administrative Law Judge will hear HUD's charge unless any party to the charge elects to have the case heard in federal district court. If an administrative law judge finds, after a hearing, that discrimination has occurred, the judge may award damages to the tenant for her losses as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, to deter further discrimination, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties to vindicate the public interest. If the federal court hears the case, the judge may also award punitive damages to the complainant.
People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 (voice) 800-927-9275 (TTY) or the Department of Justice at (800) 896-7743 or 202-514-4713. Additional information is available at www.hud.gov/fairhousing and www.justice.gov.
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