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Coker Law Receives Settlement in National Sexual Harassment Case

Posted on Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

Coker Law partner Matthew Posgay was one of three attorneys from across the country who obtained an important settlement for his client in a sexual harassment case against the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Posgay, along with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid attorneys Stephen Pitel and Kevin Rabin, represented a 31-year-old woman who reported that 49-year-old Mitchell Ray sexually assaulted her. The victim told police Ray also threatened her with eviction from her apartment if she reported the assault to anyone.

Mitchell Ray

During the course of the investigation, detectives said information was obtained that supported the victim’s report. Ray was also charged with sexually assaulting another victim at the same apartment complex.  Ray was fired from the Jacksonville Housing Authority after his arrests.  A criminal case against Ray is pending.

HUD Announces Settlements in Three States

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced in April that it reached sexual harassment settlements with housing industry participants in three different states. Under the Fair Housing Act, it is illegal to discriminate against individuals based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or disability. Sexual harassment is a form of illegal sex discrimination.  The three settlements come from Florida, Virginia and California.

The settlements come on the heels of HUD announcing an initiative to combat sexual harassment in housing.  The Florida settlement resolves the case from Coker Law’s client that she was sexually harassed on multiple occasions by a housing authority employee. As part of the settlement, the housing authority agreed to pay a financial settlement, adopt a new sexual harassment policy and require staff to attend fair housing training.

This Never Should Have Happened

(C) Agnes Lopez Photography 2014

“We represented the resident in the Florida case, along with the Jacksonville Area Legal Aid attorneys,” said Posgay. “The Jacksonville Housing Authority had a sexual predator working for them, who has since been fired and is awaiting a criminal trial.  Our client should have never been in this position. The perpetrator had a history of domestic violence and assault. He didn’t admit that on his job application and the JHA never checked his criminal history.”

Additionally, HUD reached a conciliation agreement with an independent living facility in Virginia. The agreement resolved allegations that the facility did not take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment of a female tenant by another tenant. HUD also reached a conciliation agreement with a California landlord who was accused of making repeated unwanted sexual advances towards a male tenant with a mental disability. The landlord allegedly ultimately evicted the male resident for refusing the advances.

“It’s awful to hear that our client wasn’t the only tenant put in harm’s way, sexually harassed and threatened,” said Posgay. “We certainly hope that JHA does a better job at identifying potential threats in the future. We are proud that we were able to work as a team for our client here in Florida and ensure that she was able to find a better home where she and her children now feel safe.”

IF YOU’RE INJURED OR THE VICTIM OF A CRIME WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

If you would like to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney. You may qualify to receive compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and other expenses related to your injuries. To speak with personal injury attorney Matthew Posgay or for more information, call (904) 356-6071 or click here to schedule a free consultation.