The landlord and owner of several rental properties in Wichita, Kansas has been charged with sexual harassment of female tenants and housing discrimination after the landlord allegedly offered to exchange sex for rent, according to a release.
“Landlords who use their position to intimidate or harass residents or to attempt to trade sexual favors for rent violate the sanctity of a woman’s home, the place where she should feel the safest,” Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, said in the release.
“HUD is committed to protecting the housing rights of those who are sexually harassed and will continue to take action any time housing providers violate those rights.”
Sexual harassment of female tenants involved unwanted sexual advances
The charge is the result of complaints filed by two female residents alleging that the landlord made unwanted sexual advances toward them, harassed them, made derogatory statements based on race, and evicted them because they refused his advances.
HUD’s charge alleges that the landlord subjected one of the women, who was working as a property manager, to a hostile environment, including entering her apartment uninvited, sexually harassing her, and requesting sex in exchange for allowing her to stay in her unit. The charge also alleges that the landlord told her that he could be her “sugar daddy,” grabbed her buttocks, and made comments about her body to others. On one occasion she awoke to find him in her bedroom on her bed.
The charge further alleges that the landlord subjected a second woman to a hostile environment by making numerous requests for sex when he picked up her rent payments. Once, when she was late paying a portion of her rent, the landlord allegedly asked her if she wanted to have sex with him instead of paying the $150 she owed. When she refused the offer, the landlord allegedly became very upset and immediately wrote her a 3-day notice to vacate.
“Throughout the course of Complainant tenancy, Respondent Thong Cao made comments such as "if you ever want a sugar daddy, you should consider me because I am rich, and I can take care of you," would smack or grab her buttocks, urinate in front of her without closing the bathroom door, and would make comments that her boyfriend, who lived with her, did not love her, but that Respondent did love her,” according to the complaint.
Sexual harassment of female tenants included offer to exchange sex for rent
“Respondent Cao informed her she could "work off' her $800 a month rental payment through her property manager duties, or she could sleep with him once a week in exchange for her rent, "and still put money in her pocket." Complainant rejected his offer to exchange sex for rent, but Complainant continued to perform her property manager duties in exchange for rent,” according to the complaint.
”Complainant was asleep in just a t-shirt and underwear when she woke up to find Respondent Cao sitting on her bed with his hand up under her blanket and rubbing her feet. Complainant screamed at him to get out, and she got dressed. When she went downstairs, he was in her living room and he insisted she go with him to look at a unit in need of repair. While driving Complainant in his truck to see the repairs, Respondent Cao called Complainant "honky m****r f****r" and told her that he was her boss. She exited the truck at a stop light, extremely upset, and walked home,” according to the complaint.
Landlord asking for sex when called to fix rental house
The tenant also filed for a protection against stalking order, “"Landlord is asking for sex when he is called to fix things in the house and to get rent. I feel violated and feel like he won't stop till he gets what he wants, willingly or unwilling,” according to the complaint.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability. Sexual harassment is a form of illegal sex discrimination.
The charge of sexual harassment of female tenants will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainants for their loss as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest.
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