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NY Landlord to Pay $2M in Sex Harassment Suit

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 14, 2012 6:57 AM

The owners of a Manhattan apartment building have agreed to pay $2 million to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a group of female tenants. Landlord Stanley Katz, his son Stephen Katz, and superintendent William Barnason are all part of the agreement.

The women accused the landlord of sexual harassment and of allowing his son and Barnason to target them with "humiliating and abusive behavior." All three have also been accused of calling female tenants "whores looking for a free ride."

William Barnason, who served time for sexually assaulting three girls, was the worst, according to the New York Times. He would drunkenly try to enter women's apartments and would then demand sex and try to grope them. He's also said to have demanded sexual favors in exchange for rent reductions.

When Stanley Katz learned of these allegations, he ignored them.

Federal prosecutors sued the group for landlord sexual harassment, which is prohibited by the Fair Housing Act. Because sex discrimination includes sexual harassment, landlords and their employees cannot create a sexually charged or hostile living environment. They cannot:

  • Deny services unless sexual favors are exchanged
  • Offer benefits in exchange for sexual favors
  • Touch tenants in a sexual manner
  • Use sexual words or make demeaning comments based on gender or sex

The same prohibitions apply to prospective tenants, men and women. Landlord sexual harassment is prohibited throughout the entire rental process no matter who you are. Remember this and don't let landlords like Stanley Katz and building managers like William Barnason intimidate you.

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