Justice Department files sexual harassment lawsuit against Pa rental property owners, managers

Regional News

The United States Justice Department Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the owners and managers of rental properties in Oil City, Pennsylvania alleging sexual harassment and retaliation violating the Fair Housing Act.

The lawsuit alleges that Allen Woodcock sexually harassed a female tenant in April 2019 after he entered her home to perform maintenance. According to the complaint, Allen Woodcock touched the tenant’s body without her consent and forcibly tried to kiss her, and the Woodcocks evicted the tenant after she reported the harassment to Heidi Woodcock.

“People should never have to endure sexual harassment in their home, where they should feel safe and secure,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act against landlords who engage in this kind of abusive and illegal behavior.”

“Sexual harassment in housing is illegal,” said Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman for the Western District of Pennsylvania. “Landlords, property managers or anyone else with control over housing should recognize by the filing of this lawsuit that we take action to combat such despicable conduct.”

The lawsuit arose from a complaint that the former tenant filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After HUD investigated the complaint, it issued a charge of discrimination and the matter was referred to the Justice Department.

The Justice Department is seeking monetary damages to compensate the victim and a court order barring future discrimination.

Anyone who believes that they may have been victims of sexual harassment or other types of housing discrimination at rental dwellings owned or managed by Allen and Heidi Woodcock, or who have other information that may be relevant to this case, is asked to call the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-800-896-7743 or email the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov or submit a report online.

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