Archive for Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Justice Department sues KCK Housing Authority, former worker

October 27, 2015

— The Justice Department sued the Kansas City, Kansas, Housing Authority and a former hearing officer Monday over sexual harassment claims.

Victor L. Hernandez is accused in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, of exposing himself in 2013 while he was a hearing officer to a woman seeking public housing and another woman facing eviction. The suit also claimed that Hernandez asked the two women sexual questions and showed them pornographic pictures and videos.

Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, spokesman Edwin Birch said the city had no jurisdiction over the housing authority and referred questions to the agency. No one from the housing authority immediately returned a phone message left after hours on Monday.

Hernandez, who left the agency in January 2014, didn't have a listed phone number, and it wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.

The Justice Department claims the harassment alleged in the suit was a violation of the Fair Housing Act. The suit also said that the agency "knew or should have known of Hernandez's discriminatory housing practices, had the authority to take preventive and corrective action, yet failed to take reasonable preventive or corrective measures to prevent or redress Hernandez's conduct."

The suit seeks monetary damages for the women and a court order barring future discrimination and requiring additional preventive measures.

"No one, including those who seek public assistance for housing benefits, should be subjected to sexual harassment, particularly by the very people tasked with providing critical assistance," Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, said in a written statement. "The Justice Department will continue its vigorous enforcement of the Fair Housing Act against those who abuse their power and authority."

The Justice Department is asking anyone else who may have been subjected to harassment to come forward.

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