The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has charged Nedzad Ukejnovic, the owner of multiple single-family residences in the St. Louis area of Missouri, with discrimination for allegedly subjecting a female tenant to sexual harassment, according to a release.
The HUD charge alleges the landlord made requests of the female tenant, “including requests for sexual favors in exchange for reduced rent, and discriminatory statements based on sex.”
This case’s ‘single mom falls behind on rent’ story is real common with our sexual harassment cases,” said Glenn Burleigh, spokesman for the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing and Opportunity Council, or EHOC, by text message to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits sexual harassment of tenants and other forms of housing discrimination based on race, sex, color, national origin, disability, religion and familial status.
“No one should have to submit to unwelcome sexual advances or tolerate sexual harassment to keep their home, a place where a person should feel safest,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s principal deputy assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, in the release. The “charge sends a clear message to all landlords that HUD is committed to taking action against landlords whose behavior violates the Fair Housing Act.”
“The intolerable and deplorable conduct alleged in this case constitutes sexual harassment that violates the Fair Housing Act,” said Damon Smith, HUD’s General Counsel, in the release. “HUD is steadfastly committed to protecting the rights of tenants to be free from such harassment by their landlords.”
HUD’s charge, issued on behalf of the tenant, alleges that Ukejnovic “made repeated unwelcome sexual advances toward the tenant and pressured her to provide sexual favors and explicit photos of herself when she fell behind on rent payments.”
The charge further alleges “Ukejnovic’s actions included grabbing the tenant’s body without permission, pressing his body against hers, offering to accept sexual favors in lieu of rent, making unwanted sexual comments, and sending lewd and inappropriate texts to her. The tenant and her children moved out after enduring months of sexual harassment from Ukejnovic.”
HUD is asking for unspecified monetary damages for the tenant, as well as assessment of a civil penalty against Ukejnovic for each of four violations of the Fair Housing Act.