WASHINGTON — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above is from 11 Investigates' 2020 investigation into allegations of sexual harassment by Toledo landlords
The Justice Department on Thursday announced that Toledo landlords Anthony Hubbard, Ann Hubbard, Jeffery Hubbard, PayUp LLC and No Joke Properties Inc. have agreed to pay $100,000 to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging that Anthony Hubbard sexually harassed female tenants at rental properties he owned or managed with the other defendants.
“People deserve to be safe in their homes and sexual harassment in housing deprives them of that right,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will not tolerate landlords who abuse their power by sexually harassing their tenants, and we will continue to vigorously enforce the Fair Housing Act against landlords who engage in this conduct.
“Exploiting any person’s basic housing needs as a way to sexually harass, demean and control them violates the law,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Bridget M. Brennan for the Northern District of Ohio. “We remain committed to rooting out homeowners and landlords who target vulnerable residents seeking safe and affordable housing opportunities for them and their families."
The settlement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, requires that defendants pay a total of $90,000 to three female tenants who were harmed by Hubbard’s harassment and a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States. The settlement also:
- prohibits Anthony Hubbard from continuing to manage rental housing;
- requires Anthony Hubbard to retain an independent property manager to manage any rental properties he owns now or in the future; and
- requires defendants to receive fair housing training and implement comprehensive non-discrimination policies and complaint procedures to prevent sexual harassment at their properties in the future.
The United States’ lawsuit, filed in October 2019, alleged that Anthony Hubbard engaged in unwelcome sexual harassment at properties he managed, including making unwelcome sexual advances and comments to female tenants; sending them unwanted sexual text messages, videos and photos; offering to reduce or excuse their monthly rental payments, security deposits and utility fees in exchange for sex acts; and entering the homes of female tenants without their consent and without prior notice.
In an interview with WTOL 11 in 2020, one of the accusers said that in exchange for a good deal on rent and utilities at her previous house on Macomber in central Toledo, Anthony Hubbard sent her sexually explicit text messages and even demanded sexual favors when she was late on rent or needed a repair.
"I didn't realize it was too good to be true because I've had a previous landlord who would help me out with refrigerator, stove, different items that I needed, but I didn't have sex with him or anything," the woman said.
Stephen Hartman, attorney with Spengler Nathanson, said at the time that his client didn't do anything wrong.
"He categorically denies that he's ever discriminated against anyone in the housing realm," Hartman said.
The United States also alleged that Anthony Hubbard carried out some of this sexual harassment while managing properties on behalf of the other defendants - Ann Hubbard, Jeffery Hubbard, PayUp LLC and No Joke Properties Inc. - making them liable for the harassment he carried out while acting as their agent.
This case was jointly litigated by attorneys in the Civil Rights Division and the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio. The Justice Department’s Sexual Harassment in Housing Initiative is led by the Civil Rights Division, in coordination with U.S. Attorney’s Offices across the country. The goal of the department’s initiative is to address and raise awareness about sexual harassment by landlords, property managers, maintenance workers, loan officers or other people who have control over housing. Since launching the initiative in October 2017, the Department of Justice has filed 21 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment in housing and recovered over $2.5 million for victims of such harassment.
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. More information about the Civil Rights Division and the laws it enforces is available at http://www.justice.gov/crt.
Individuals may report sexual harassment or other forms of housing discrimination by calling the Justice Department at 1-800-896-7743, emailing the Justice Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or submitting a report online. Individuals may also report such discrimination by contacting the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at 1-800-669-9777 or by filing a complaint online.