Wisconsin Landlords of More Than 100 Rental Units Settle for $500,000 With 13 Female Tenants for Sexual Harassment
Posted on February 9, 2024
The Justice Department settled with Richard and Mary Donahue, landlords of over 100 rental units in Janesville, Wisconsin, to address sexual harassment allegations against Richard Donahue towards female tenants spanning over two decades.
The settlement includes a $500,000 payment to 13 female tenants for damages and a $123,965 civil penalty.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke emphasized that everyone deserves to feel safe at home, highlighting the action’s commitment to protect tenants’ rights. U.S. Attorney Timothy M. O’Shea echoed the sentiment, underscoring the importance of holding landlords accountable for such violations.
The lawsuit alleged that, since at least 2000, Richard Donahue had harassed female tenants by making repeated and unwelcome sexual comments, touching tenants’ bodies without their consent, demanding sexual activity in exchange for rent and housing-related benefits, and taking adverse actions against tenants who resisted his sexual advances or complained about the harassment.
The suit was filed in May 2022.
As part of the consent decree, pending court approval, the Donahues will compensate the affected tenants, attempt to reverse any retaliatory evictions, and correct the tenants’ credit reports.
They are barred from managing rental properties and must hire an independent manager.
The lawsuit, filed in May 2022, accused Richard Donahue of unwanted sexual advances, comments, and even demanding sexual favors in exchange for rent benefits.
For more information or to report housing discrimination, including sexual harassment, individuals can contact the Justice Department’s Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1-833-591-0291 or file a report online. HUD also accepts complaints at 1-800-669-9777 or through their online complaint form.