The Department of Justice announced today that it has reached an agreement to resolve a lawsuit alleging that Filomeno Hernandez, a property manager of residential buildings near MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, violated federal housing law fair by sexually harassing tenants since at least 2006.
Today’s settlement also resolves claims against Ramin Akhavan, Bonnie Brae Investments LLC and Westlake Property Services LLC, who managed or owned the rental properties where the harassment took place.
Under the consent decree, which has yet to be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, the defendants are required to pay a total of $ 105,000, including $ 100,000 in pecuniary damages to the women who have been injured as a result of sexual harassment. , and a civil fine of $ 5,000. The consent decree also prohibits future discrimination, prevents Hernandez from participating in the rental or management of residential properties in the future, requires Hernandez to leave the premises and quit his position as an on-site property manager, requires training in fair housing law and requires careful monitoring. and reports on property management activities and compliance with the terms of the consent decree.
The department’s lawsuit, filed in 2020, alleged that for more than a decade, Hernandez had subjected tenants to harassment that included unwanted sexual touching, including sexual assault, frequent unwanted sexual advances and comments, offers to reduce rent or excuse late or unpaid rent in exchange for sex and unannounced visits to the homes of female tenants without their consent to make sexual advances. The apartment buildings managed by Hernandez are located at 729 South Bonnie Brae Street and 720 Westlake Avenue in Los Angeles, near MacArthur Park.
âThe sexual harassment of vulnerable tenants is a blatant violation of the Fair Housing Act,â said Deputy Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. âThe Department of Justice is committed to prosecuting predatory property owners and managers and ensuring that no one is discriminated against in housing on the basis of their gender. “
âThe right to be free from sexual harassment in one’s own home is an essential federal civil right,â said acting US attorney Tracy L. Wilkison for the Central District of California. “This settlement demonstrates our commitment to vigorously enforce federal civil rights laws and to hold accountable those who discriminate against others in violation of Fair Housing Act.”
The Department of Justice enforces the Federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and family status. The Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative is led by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with US prosecutors’ offices across the country. The aim of the department’s initiative is to address and raise awareness of sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, housekeepers, loan officers or others who monitor housing. Since the initiative’s launch in October 2017, the Department of Justice has filed 21 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in housing and recovered more than $ 3.9 million for victims of such harassment.
Individuals can report sexual harassment in housing or other forms of housing discrimination by calling the Department of Justice Housing Discrimination Information Line at 1-800-896-7743, sending an email to the Department of Justice at [email protected], or submit a report online.
Individuals in the Central District of California can also file a complaint of housing discrimination or other civil rights violations with the Civil Rights Section of the Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office by calling (213) 894- 2879, by sending an email to [email protected] .gov or by filling out and submitting this form (English) (Spanish).
Reports can also be made by contacting the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777 or by file a complaint online.
More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt. More information on the Civil Rights Section, Civil Division of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California is available at https://www.justice.gov/usao-cdca/civil-division / civil-rights. See the Spanish translation of this press release here.