DOJ files sex harassment lawsuit against Minnesota rental property owners

The suit alleges a property manager sexually harassed female tenants.

The Department of Justice has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the owners of a number of rental properties in the Twin Cities area, alleging they subjected female tenants to "sexually hostile housing environments."

The lawsuit has been filed against Reese and Jeanne Pfeiffer, Michael Fruen, and Jeremy Martineau and their companies Fruen & Pfeiffer LLP, and M. Fruen Properties.

The DOJ is alleging that they violated the Fair Housing Act due to "sexual harassment and discriminatory conduct against vulnerable tenants."

The complaint alleges that Reese Pfeiffer "commented on female tenants’ looks and body parts, engaged in unwelcome touching, asked personal questions about their relationship status, made unwelcome sexual advances, discussed sexual topics without consent, and entered their homes under the pretense of collecting rent to solicit sexual favors."

Reese Pfeiffer act as the property manager for numerous single-family and multi-family rental homes in Minneapolis and the surrounding suburb.

The complaint argues that the other defendants, Jeanne Pfeiffer, Fruen, and Martineau, and their business entities are "vicariously liable" for Reese Pfeiffer's alleged conduct, because he acted as their agent when he harassed the tenants at properties in "which they had an ownership interest."

Minnesota U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said they will be seeking to stop the harassment, compensate the victims, and issue financial penalties.

"The U.S. Attorney’s Office will not tolerate this type of discrimination and stands ready to deploy all available enforcement tools to see that justice is served," MacDonald said.

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