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Fair Housing Center Files Suit Over Sexual Harassment In Housing

Posted on 02. Dec, 2011 by

On December 2, 2011, the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) and bona fide complainant “Jane Doe” filed suit against Ore Duckworth, a landlord in New Orleans, LA for discrimination on the basis of sex, including severe, pervasive and unwelcome sexual harassment, battery and assault.  The lawsuit stems from multiple incidents that occurred between December 2008-January 2010 in which Mr. Duckworth subjected Ms. Doe to unwanted verbal sexual advances, unwanted physical sexual advances, and conditioned the terms of Ms. Doe’s tenancy on her submission to his sexual advances.

Under the federal Fair Housing Act it is unlawful to deny a person housing or offer them different terms, conditions, or privileges because of sex. It is also illegal to interfere with a tenant’s enjoyment of the premises due to coercion, intimidation, harassment, threats or interference.

The complaint was filed in the United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana.  It alleges that Mr. Duckworth repeatedly harassed and discriminated against his tenant in the following ways:

  • Unwanted verbal sexual advances
  • Unwanted physical sexual advances
  • Propositioning Ms. Doe for naked photographs and /or sexual activity in exchange for Mr. Duckworth paying bills, forgiving rental payments, or making legally obligated repairs to Ms. Doe’s unit.
  • Taking steps to evict Ms. Doe after she continued to refuse Mr. Duckworth’s unwanted advances.

Duckworth’s pervasive conduct created a hostile living environment that caused his tenant to live in fear for her safety and the safety of her children.  The suit prays for relief in the form of compensatory and punitive damages.

During Ms. Doe’s tenancy, Mr. Duckworth subjected at least three other female tenants to repeated sexual harassment and discrimination of a similar nature to that which Ms. Doe experienced.  GNOFHAC staff believes that Mr. Duckworth might have engaged in this type of behavior with numerous female tenants over the course of several years.  Other women who may have experienced sexual harassment in housing should call the fair housing center.

GNOFHAC Executive Director James Perry comments, “Everyone deserves to feel safe in their own homes.  Mr. Duckworth’s behavior is absolutely egregious and made Ms. Doe and her children feel unsafe at home.  Sexual harassment in housing is a violation of civil rights laws and the fair housing center will do whatever it takes to make sure that Ms. Doe and any others who have experienced sexual harassment in their own homes can once again feel safe.”

The Law Offices of Sangisetty & Samuels, LLC is serving as co-counsel in representing Ms. Doe on this matter.

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The Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC) is a private non- profit organization. GNOFHAC is dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination and furthering equal housing opportunities through education, outreach, advocacy, and enforcement of fair housing laws across the metro New Orleans and Baton Rouge areas.  The activities described in this release were privately funded.

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