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The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas Redoubles Its Efforts to Combat Sexual Harassment in Housing During the COVID-19 Pandemic
San Antonio, TX
   
 
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U.S. Attorney John F. Bash is asking that anyone who has witnessed or is a victim of sexual harassment at the hands of an owner, property manager, maintenance worker or any other individual who has control over housing to report that conduct to the Department of Justice.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas will work closely with state and local partners to identify incidents of sexual harassment in housing. 

“I am proud that the Department of Justice has prioritized the fight against sexual harassment in housing.  My office will act aggressively against such violations of federal law and fundamental decency,” stated U.S. Attorney Bash.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the ability of many people to pay their rent on time and has increased the lack of home security. The Justice Department has received reports that housing providers are trying to take advantage of the crisis to sexually harass tenants. Sexual harassment in housing is illegal and the Department of Justice is prepared to investigate such allegations and pursue, where appropriate, law enforcement measures.

The Department of Justice's Home Sexual Harassment Initiative is an effort to combat sexual harassment in housing led by the Civil Rights Division, in collaboration with federal prosecutors across the country. The Initiative aims to address sexual harassment by homeowners, property managers, maintenance workers, lenders, or others who control housing.

Since its launch in 2017, the Initiative has filed lawsuits across the country, alleging a pattern or practice of sexual harassment in housing and has recovered millions of dollars in damages for victims of harassment. Justice Department investigations often reveal cases of sexual harassment that have persisted for years. Many individuals do not know that being harassed by a housing provider may be a violation of federal laws or that the Department of Justice could help.

Through the Civil Rights Division and Federal Prosecutors' Offices, the Department of Justice enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, skin color, religion, sex, family status, national origin, or disability. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that the Act prohibits.  The Department encourages anyone who has been sexually harassed in the home or who knows someone who has been sexually harassed to contact the Civil Rights Division by telephone at (844) 380-6178 or by email to fairhousing@usdoj.gov.

Individuals who believe they have been victims of discrimination may also contact the nearest U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas by calling:  San Antonio—(210) 384-7100; Austin—(512) 916-5858; El Paso—(915) 534-6884; Midland—(432) 686-4110; Del Rio—(830) 703-2025; Alpine—(432) 837-7332; or Waco—(254) 750-1580.  A complaint alleging sexual harassment or housing discrimination may also be filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the HUD website (https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/online-complaint) or by calling (800) 669-9777.

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