Cohasset Landlord Ordered to Provide $30,000 in Compensation, Stay Away from Tenant to Resolve Bias-Motivated Harassment Claims
DEDHAM – A commercial landlord in Cohasset accused of bias-motivated harassment and threats has agreed to compensate his tenant, an Egyptian immigrant and restaurant owner, and has been ordered to permanently stay away from the tenant, his family, and his employees, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The consent judgment, entered Thursday in Norfolk Superior Court against Roger Q. Hill, resolves allegations that he violated the state’s civil rights and consumer protection acts by engaging in a pattern of threatening, intimidating, and coercive behavior toward his tenant, the owner of Route 3A Pizza & Grill. The judgment orders Hill to provide more than $30,000 in compensation, stop the alleged harassment, and stay away from the tenant on a permanent basis.
“Bias and prejudice have no place in the operation of Massachusetts businesses,” AG Healey said. “We allege that this landlord repeatedly interfered with his tenant’s ability to run a family-owned business in a safe and inclusive environment. Our office will stand up for the rights of individuals victimized by harassment.”
According to the complaint, filed in March 2014, the harassment began in 2008 shortly after the tenant and his family started operating Route 3A Pizza & Grill on Hill’s commercial property in Cohasset. The alleged harassment included repeated use of ethnic slurs towards the tenant, members of his family, and his employees, frequent unjustified interruptions of the restaurant’s business activities, and multiple unfounded complaints to the police. Hill also allegedly threatened the tenant’s life and compared one of his employees to the terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center.
Under the terms of the settlement, Hill will pay the restaurant owner $15,000 and forgive more than $15,000 in rent. Hill has also been permanently enjoined from entering the business (except in emergency situations) or approaching within 20 feet of the tenant, other members of the tenant’s family, or the tenant’s employees.
The Attorney General’s Office brought this action, following a referral from the Cohasset Police Department, under the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act (MCRA) and the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act.
Under the MCRA, the AG’s Office may obtain injunctions against individuals who threaten, intimidate, or coerce victims because of their membership in a protected class – such as race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability – or because they are exercising their rights, such as the right to use public ways or places, the right to use and enjoy one’s property, or the right to associate freely.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Strovink of AG Healey’s Civil Rights Division, along with Civil Investigator Christine Junod.