The #MeToo movement has drawn attention to the lasting effects that sexual harassment and assault have on survivors. From the workplace to public spaces, survivors are sharing their stories and voicing their experiences. An area that has not received as much attention, however, is the sexual harassment and assault that takes place in the home.
The Fair Housing Act protects against two main types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile environment. Quid pro quo, or “this for that,” sexual harassment occurs when a housing provider or their employee requires sexual acts in exchange for housing or housing-related transactions like repairs. Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when a housing provider or their employee creates an environment of unwanted, severe, and/or pervasive sexual behavior that negatively affects a tenant.
In August, 2018 the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) filed suit in federal court against Jerry Kelly Jr. after former tenants and a previous leasing agent alleged, among other things, that Mr. Kelly grabbed the buttocks of a woman during lease signing, entered a unit without notice while a tenant was showering, and exhibited a preference to rent to “young, skinny, white girls.”
“We often think of sexual harassment and discrimination as a workplace issue, but landlords are just as likely to abuse the power they hold over current and prospective tenants,” said Cashauna Hill, executive director at GNOFHAC. “The allegations in this case should concern us all, and we implore any person with knowledge of similar behavior to report their suspicions to the Fair Housing Action Center so that we can prevent future harm,” she continued.
If you are experiencing sexual harassment in housing, the Fair Housing Act protects you and is an important tool to hold the perpetrator accountable. Contact the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center at 504-596-2100 or 877-445-2100. Help is free and confidential.