MACARTHUR PARK—On Friday, August 6, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that they have reached an agreement to resolve a lawsuit alleging that Filomeno Hernandez, a property manager of residential apartment buildings in Los Angeles, violated the federal Fair Housing Act by sexually harassing female tenants since 2006.
The settlement also resolves claims against Ramin Akhavan, Westlake Property Services LLC, and Bonnie Brae Investments LLC, which managed or owned the rental properties where the harassment took place.
Under the consent decree, the defendants are required to pay a total of $105,000, which includes a $5,000 civil penalty and $100,000 in monetary damages to women who were harmed as a result of the sexual harassment. The consent decree also prevents Hernandez from participating in the management or rental of residential properties, requires that Hernandez leave his post as on-site manager and vacate the premises, mandates Fair Housing Act training, and requires extensive reporting and monitoring regarding property management activities.
The Justice Department’s 2020 lawsuit alleged that, for over a decade, Hernandez subjected female tenants to harassment that included unwanted sexual touching, such as sexual assault; frequent unwelcome sexual advances and comments; offers to reduce rent or excuse unpaid or late rent in exchange for sex; and unannounced visits to the homes of female tenants to make sexual advances.
“The right to be free from sexual harassment in one’s own home is a vital federal civil right,” said Acting United States Attorney Tracy L. Wilkison, “this settlement shows our commitment to vigorously enforcing federal civil rights laws and holding accountable those who discriminate against others in violation of the Fair Housing Act.”
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division stated that, “sexual harassment of vulnerable tenants is an egregious violation of the Fair Housing Act. The Justice Department is committed to pursuing predatory landlords and property managers and ensuring that no individual is subject to housing discrimination because of their sex.”