Note: See the Spanish translation of this press release here.
LOS ANGELES – 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 apartment buildings near MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, violated the law federal law on fair housing 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 a federal judge in Los Angeles, the defendants are required to pay a total of $ 105,000, which includes $ 100,000 in damages to women who were injured in the as a result of sexual harassment, and a $ 5,000 civil fine. 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 on the Fair Housing Act and requires extensive training monitoring and reporting regarding property management activities and compliance with the terms of the licensing decree.
The 2020 Justice Department lawsuit alleged that, for more than a decade, Hernandez had subjected female tenants to harassment that included unwanted sexual touching, including sexual assault; frequent unwelcome 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.
âThe right to be free from sexual harassment in one’s own home is an essential federal civil right,â said United States Acting Prosecutor Tracy L. Wilkison. âThis 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.â
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. “
The apartment buildings managed by Hernandez are located at 729 South Bonnie Brae Street and 720 Westlake Avenue in Los Angeles, near MacArthur Park.
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 Housing Sexual Harassment Initiative is headed by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with US prosecutors’ offices across the country. The aim of the ministry initiative is to address and to raise awareness about sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers or others who control the home. 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 US 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.