By Stephanie Mojica
The U.S. Department of Justice recently filed a lawsuit against an Iowa landlord alleging that he sexually harassed and committed acts of retaliation against a female tenant.
The defendants in the lawsuit are Juan Goitia and 908 Bridge Cooperative in Davenport, Iowa, according to a press release from the Department of Justice. The reported incidents occurred between March and August 2018 and are blatant violations of the Fair Housing Act, according to the Department of Justice.
Goitia, an owner and manager of residential properties, allegedly touched a female tenant’s body on multiple occasions without her consent and made repeated and unwanted sexual remarks, according to the Department of Justice. When the woman filed a fair housing complaint with the Davenport Commission on Civil Rights (DCRC) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), he engaged in acts of retaliation against her, according to the Department of Justice. The press release did not elaborate upon what those alleged acts of retaliation were.
“No woman should have to endure sexual harassment to keep her home,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said in the press release. “The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from sexual harassment and retaliation by their landlords, and the Justice Department will vigorously pursue those who engage in such reprehensible and illegal conduct.”
After the DCRC and HUD investigated the woman’s fair housing complaint, they forwarded it to the Department of Justice for further action. The lawsuit filed on June 29th calls for the woman to be compensated financially. Also, the Department of Justice asked for a court order to be issued to prevent further discrimination against the woman.
“Women have a hard enough time finding a decent affordable place to live without having to be subjected to unwanted sexual advances,” Assistant Secretary Anna Maria Farias of HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office said in the press release. “HUD applauds the action the Justice Department is taking in this matter and remains committed to working together to protect the housing rights of women when those rights are violated.”