For Immediate Release - July 30, 2014

Springfield Property Owner and Manager to Pay $25,000 for Failing to Address Sexual Orientation-Based Harassment

AG Alleges Landlord and Management Company Knew About Bias-Motivated Harassment against Tenant, Failed to Appropriately Investigate or Intervene

SPRINGFIELD – A Springfield landlord and property management company have agreed to pay $25,000 to resolve allegations that they failed to adequately investigate and appropriately respond to harassment of a tenant due to his sexual orientation, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. 

According to the assurance of discontinuance, filed today in Suffolk Superior Court, the tenant started being harassed by neighbors and their guests shortly after moving into the Worthington Commons Apartments in Springfield.  The harassment included homophobic slurs, vandalism of his door and mailbox, and threats of physical harm and violence.

The settlement was entered into with Worthington Commons Limited Partnership, the owner of the Worthington Commons Apartments, and First Resource Management Company LLC, the management company.  The defendants have denied any wrongdoing, and cooperated with the investigation.

The AG’s Office alleges that the tenant reported these incidents to onsite property management staff as well as an executive officer, and that despite the severity of the harassment, Worthington Commons and First Resource failed to take appropriate action in response, such as transferring the tenant to another one of their apartments in a different neighborhood.

Under the terms of the settlement, Worthington Commons and First Resource must pay $20,000 to the tenant, $2,500 to the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center which represented the tenant, and $2,500 to the Commonwealth.  Additionally, they must implement a tenant harassment policy and have all of their employees complete fair housing training in each of the next three years. 

Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to discriminate because of sexual orientation in the terms and conditions of the rental of housing accommodations.  This prohibition includes a landlord’s failure to address a hostile living environment created by bias-motivated harassment of a tenant. 

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Ann E. Lynch of AG Coakley’s Western Massachusetts and Civil Rights Divisions, with assistance from Richard Steward of the Investigations Division and Paralegal Sharon Coles.

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