BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has approved an agreement requiring the owners and manager of a Bakersfield apartment complex to pay $14,500 to several female residents to settle allegations of sexual harassment.
According to HUD, Ronoel Romero, Blanca Romero, and Mario Prudencio sexually harassed their female tenants in violation of the Fair Housing Act. The tenants filed a complaint with HUD March 28, 2019, alleging they subjected them to differential treatment based on sex and subjected them to unwelcome sexual comments and unwelcome sexual advances.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for housing providers to sexually harass tenants. This includes creating a severe or pervasive hostile housing environment, or conditioning housing or housing-related services on the tenant's acquiescence to sexual demands.
“A home should be a place of peace and security, not fear and anxiety because of sexual harassment,” said Anna María Farías, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Today's settlement agreement sends a clear message to all property owners and landlords that HUD is committed to taking appropriate action when offenders engage in behavior that violates the Fair Housing Act.
Under the terms of the agreement, the owners will pay the women who filed the complaint $10,000 and attend mandatory fair housing training. The owners will also pay $4,500 to two other aggrieved female residents. In addition, Prudencio will be permanently prohibited from directly or indirectly engaging in or conducting any property management responsibilities.
- Read the full settlement below:
In April 2018, HUD and the Justice Department launched a nationwide joint initiative aimed at combating sexual harassment in housing enhancing public education about the issue and encouraging those faced with sexual harassment to report their cases.
Persons who believe they have experienced housing discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (Voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed online at www.hud.gov/fairhousing [hud.gov].