US: Gay couple to receive $147,000 in damages for harassment by apartment maintenance staff

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The management company of an apartment complex in the US state of Iowa has been ordered to pay a substantial amount in damages to a gay couple who were discriminated against by an on-site maintenance man, and others who refused to stop the harassment.

The couple Charles Anderson and Brandon Morehead, were awarded $147,000 (£95,000) in damages, after a jury found they had been discriminated against.

Jurors heard testimony that Allen Emert, a maintenance technician for the apartment complex management complex, New Life Multi-Family Management LLC, continually harassed the defendants, calling them names, after he learned in March 2011 that they share a one-bedroom apartment.

Despite complaints to two of Emert’s supervisors, the daily harassment was not stopped. He had among other names, called the couple “queer”, and “pillow biters”.

According to the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, which sued on the couple’s behalf, the couple received $22,000 (£14,100), in economic damages, $50,000 (£32,100) for emotional distress, and $75,300 (£48,300) in punitive damages.

Beth Townsend, director of the rights commission, said: “As the jury in this case determined, there is no place in the state of Iowa for such outrageous and illegal activity, and failure to stop such behavior can result in serious penalties to responsible parties.

“The Iowa Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act were both written to ensure that Iowans are as free from discrimination and harassment in their housing as they would be in their place of employment.

The four-day trial ended with the conclusion that the management company had discriminated against the couple based on their sexual orientation.





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