Two Portland women recently settled a sex harassment fair housing claim for $95,000. While tenants in an apartment complex in Portland, the women were verbally and physically assaulted by the manager of the apartment building. Statements made by the manager to the women indicate that he viewed them as immigrated from Mexico and because they would be reluctant to have their families learn of the assaults.
After a new manager came to an apartment complex in the fall of 1997, he began to make unwanted sexual comments and attempts to touch the tenants. In the early Spring of 1998 the manager locked one of the tenants and himself in the laundry room and forcibly sexually assaulted her. Later the manager grabbed her again when he entered her apartment to fix her toilet. The tenant was able to run out of the apartment before he assaulted her again, but in the hallway the manager told the tenant that he would evict her if she did not sleep with him. Shortly afterward the owner issued a "no cause" eviction notice because the manager falsely told the owner that the tenant was dealing drugs.
The manager also trapped the second tenant when she was alone and forced on her unwanted sexual contact. The manager asked her several times to have relations with him. Both women feared encountering him around the building.
One of the tenants contacted the Fair Housing Council of Oregon in June, 1998; in response the Council referred the tenants to an attorney. After unsuccessfully asking the owner to rescind the eviction, the attorney filed for a temporary restraining order, which Judge Ancer Haggerty granted.
The case settled in April, 1999. The owner agreed to fire the manager, to arrange training for himself and his staff, to adopt a sex harassment and non-discrimination policy, and to apologize in writing. Despite the tenants' willingness to seek redress for these offenses, this case was complicated by the women's fear that their husbands would find out about the assaults.
The names of the attorney and plantiffs are withheld because of a confidentiality agreement.
Fair Housing Council of Oregon
310 S.W. Fourth Avenue, Suite 430
Portland, Oregon 97204
Fax (503) 223-3396
Complaint Hot Line 1-800-424-3247