PHILADELPHIA - Two women living at a Philadelphia apartment claim that the owners
and operators of the complex violated the federal Fair Housing Act by failing to address their sexual harassment complaints lodged against one of the employees, according to a federal suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Andrea and Francesca Cross, of Philadelphia, seek compensatory and punitive damages for two violations of the FHA and the Pennsylvania Human Rights Act by defendants Berkshire Property Advisors and Henry on the Park Associates.
According to the complaint, the Crosses resided at the Henry on the Park apartment complex in the summer of 2012, when one member of the maintenance staff began to make crude and suggestive remarks and gestures to the women. The claim says that he would suggest sexual relations with Francesca and use explicit and gestures to signify oral sex.
The employee's behavior carried on for five months, the complaint says, both inside their apartment to perform work ordered by his managers or when the plaintiffs were outside among other staff members and residents. The Crosses reported the employee's actions to the assistant property manager in October 2012, but no disciplinary action had been taken, according to the claim.
The behavior was reported again in January 2013, the complaint says, this time to the property manager, who replied that she did not believe the allegations and declined to investigate the matter. Frustrated by the response, the claim says, the plaintiffs contacted the local police department and filed a report, then called the Berkshire Property Advisors' regional manager to set up a meeting.
A few weeks later, at the meeting with representatives from the apartment complex's management team, the regional manager informed the plaintiffs that an investigation had been conducted and concluded that the allegations were proven true, the complaint says. The claim adds that the regional manager falsely told the Crosses that the employee had been fired, when he was allowed to submit his resignation to receive unemployment benefits.
The claim says that the conduct by Berkshire Property Advisors and Henry on the Park violated the FHA by discriminating the terms of the rental agreement based on the Crosses' gender. They also violated the PHRA by failing to address the Crosses' complaints and allowing one of their employees to frequently sexually harass them, the plaintiffs allege.
The plaintiffs are represented by Michael Bowman of Bowman & Partners, LLP in Philadelphia.
The federal case ID is 2:15-cv-00054-HB.