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Mass. landlord to pay $20K to tenant who alleged sexual orientation-based harassment

By Bryan Cohen | Aug 1, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley announced a settlement on Wednesday with a Springfield landlord and property management company to resolve allegations they failed to address sexual orientation-based harassment.

A tenant who moved into the Worthington Commons Apartments reported incidents of harassment from neighbors and their guests to the staff and an executive director of First Resource Management Company LLC. The harassment included vandalism, homophobic slurs and threats of physical harm. First Resource and Worthington Commons Limited Partnership, the owner of the apartments, allegedly failed to take appropriate action in response to the complaints.

Under the terms of an assurance of discontinuance, Worthington Commons and First Resource must pay $20,000 to the tenant, $2,500 to the state and $2,500 to the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, which represented the tenant. The defendants must also implement a tenant harassment policy and have their employees complete fair housing training each of the next three years.

First Resource and Worthington Commons denied any wrongdoing and cooperated with Coakley's inquiry.

It is illegal in the state of Massachusetts to discriminate because of sexual orientation in the terms and conditions of the rental of housing. The prohibition includes a landlord's failure to address a hostile living environment created by tenant harassment.

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