BOSTON – A Worcester property landlord, Mohan Prashad, and employee, David Besaw, have agreed to resolve allegations that they violated the Fair Housing Act by sexually harassing female tenants. The settlement also resolves claims against Lanaton LLC and Savton LLC, which, along with Prashad, owned the properties where the harassment occurred.
The lawsuit, filed in 2019, alleged that since at least 2009, Prashad subjected female tenants to harassment including unwelcome sexual advances and comments, making unscheduled and frequent visits to certain tenant units without legitimate property management reasons for the visits, and taking adverse actions against tenants who resisted his sexual overtures. The complaint further alleged that Besaw sexually harassed and assaulted tenants and that Prashad, after receiving notice of Besaw’s harassment, retaliated against one tenant by filing an eviction action against her and failing to take action to prevent Besaw from engaging in additional sexual harassment.
“The sexual harassment of tenants is an appalling abuse of economic and social power that warrants serious consequences,” said Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell. “Everyone has a right to feel safe and secure in their home, and the Fair Housing Act gives us the tools to enforce that for tenants. My office will continue to enforce these important civil rights laws to protect vulnerable individuals, hold violators accountable and secure justice for victims.”
“Sexually harassing tenants in their homes and retaliating against those who have complained about experiencing harassment are egregious forms of sex discrimination and violate the Fair Housing Act,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to ensuring that no individual is subjected to housing discrimination or retaliatory eviction because of their sex.”
Under the consent decree, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the defendants must pay the individuals harmed by the harassment $65,000 in compensation, a $10,000 civil penalty to the United States and vacate a judgment that the defendants had obtained against a former tenant in housing court.
The consent decree bars future discrimination and retaliation and requires that property management responsibilities be turned over to an independent manager. It also mandates the implementation of a sexual harassment policy, complaint procedure and Fair Housing Act training and requires detailed reporting on property management activities and compliance with the terms of the consent decree. In addition, Prashad and Besaw are barred from participating in property management responsibilities at residential rental properties.
Acting U.S. Attorney Mendell and Associate Attorney General Clarke made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Torey B. Cummings and Michelle Leung, of Mendell’s Civil Rights Unit, and Trial Attorney Kinara A. Flagg, of the Housing and Civil Enforcement Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, handled the matter.
The Civil Rights Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was established in 2015 with the mission of enhancing federal civil rights enforcement. For more information on the Office’s civil rights efforts, please visit www.justice.gov/usao-ma/civil-rights.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
District of Massachusetts