Lawsuit accuses Muskegon landlords of sexually harassing tenants

Muskegon County
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A lawsuit has been filed alleging that rental property owners in Muskegon sexually harassed and retaliated against women tenants, violating the Fair Housing Act.

The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that Darrell Jones sexually harassed women renting properties from him from at least 2008 to 2018.

The complaint says Jones repeatedly made unwelcome sexual comments, touched woman tenants without consent, asked for sexual favors, offered reduced or free rent in exchange for sex and retaliated against woman who declined the sexual advances.

Co-owners Fatima Jones and Jones Investing LLC have also been named as defendants.

“No woman should be forced to suffer sexual harassment to keep her home,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. “The Fair Housing Act protects tenants from sexual harassment and retaliation by their landlords, and the Justice Department will vigorously pursue those who engage in such reprehensible and illegal conduct.”

The lawsuit is asking for monetary damages to compensate the victims, civil penalties and a court order banning discrimination in the future.

“My office looks forward to vindicating the rights of these tenants,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge. “I would like all tenants in West Michigan to know that we are here to help if they experience sexual harassment by a landlord or property manager. No one should have to choose between housing and freedom from sexual harassment.”

The federal Fair Housing Act forbids discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status.

Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of discrimination with rental properties owned or managed by Darrell Jones, Fatima Jones or Jones Investing can contact the Housing Discrimination Tip Line at 1.800.896.7743 and leaving a messing by selecting option 91.

Sexual harassment and other housing discrimination can also be reported by emailing the Justice Department at fairhousing@usdoj.gov.

Additional information about the Civil Rights Division and laws it enforces can be found on the U.S. Department of Justice’s website.

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