WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit Thursday against rental property owners in Muskegon for violating the Fair Housing Act and sexually harassing female tenants.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based upon sex, race or color, religion, national origin, familial status or disability.
Property owner Darrell Jones is being accused of sexually harassing female tenants by making repeated and unwelcome sexual comments, touching their bodies without consent and requesting sexual favors, according to the complaint. Jones is also accused of offering free or reduced rent in exchange for sex and retaliating against female tenants who refused his sexual advances, officials said.
“No woman should be forced to suffer sexual harassment to keep her home,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “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.”
Jones is accused of sexually harassing women renting his properties from at least 2008 to 2018.
The lawsuit is seeking monetary damages for victims, civil penalties and a court order barring future discrimination, officials said.
Property co-owners Fatima Jones -- Darell’s wife -- and Jones Investing, LLC are also listed as defendants in the lawsuit.
Sexual harassment and other forms of housing discrimination can be reported to the DOJ by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743, and selecting option number 91 to leave a message.
You can review the full complaint below.