Justice Department Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Against Owners and Managers of Rental Properties in Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH – The Justice Department announced today that it has reached an agreement to resolve a lawsuit against Allen and Heidi Woodcock, owners and managers of rental properties in Oil City, alleging sexual harassment and retaliation in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleges that Allen Woodcock sexually harassed a female tenant in April 2019 after he entered her home to perform maintenance. According to the complaint, Allen Woodcock touched the tenant’s body without her consent and forcibly tried to kiss her, and the Woodcocks evicted the tenant after she reported the harassment to Heidi Woodcock.

Under the consent decree, which still must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, defendants are required to pay a total of $13,000 in monetary damages to the woman who was harmed as a result of the sexual harassment. The consent decree also bars future discrimination, prevents Allen Woodcock from participating in the rental or management of residential properties in the future, mandates Fair Housing Act training and requires monitoring and reporting regarding property management activities and compliance with the terms of the consent decree.

“This resolution demonstrates the commitment of our office to swiftly enforce the Fair Housing Act, especially when it comes to discrimination in housing,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Steve Kaufman. “Sexual harassment in housing will not be tolerated.”

The Justice Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative is led by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country. The goal of the initiative is to address and raise awareness about sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers, or other people who have control over housing. Since launching the Initiative in October 2017, the Justice Department has filed 22 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in housing.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt.

Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of sexual harassment or other types of housing discrimination should call the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-833-591-0291, email the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov, or submit a report online.

Individuals can also report sexual harassment and other forms of housing discrimination by contacting the Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777 or by filing a HUD complaint online.

 

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