WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that property manager Rudy Ferrante agreed to a $15,000 civil judgment against him, to resolve allegations that he sexually harassed female tenants in Portland, Maine. The department’s complaint alleged that Ferrante subjected his female tenants to unwanted sexual comments and touching, granted tangible housing benefits in exchange for sexual favors and took adverse actions against female tenants when they refused his sexual advances.
The consent order, which is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, imposes a $15,000 civil penalty against Ferrante. In addition, the consent order enjoins him from further acts of discrimination, requires him to undergo fair housing training and requires that he provide a copy of the order to his employees and any property owner on whose behalf he manages units.
“The women involved in this case were subjected to intimidating and severe acts of sexual harassment in their homes, where they have a right to feel safe,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “This order sends the message that the Civil Rights Division does not tolerate such conduct and will enforce the right to equal access to housing when it learns of violations of the Fair Housing Act.”
The department began investigating Ferrante after Pine Tree Legal Assistance, a Portland-based legal aid organization, notified the department of sexual harassment complaints it had received about Ferrante.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. Individuals who believe that they may have been victims of housing discrimination should call the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at 1-800-669-9777.