HUD charges Wichita landlord with housing discrimination after alleged sexual harassment

WASHINGTON The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is charging a Wichita landlord and his wife with housing discrimination after the landlord allegedly sexually harassed two female tenants at his properties.

HUD also alleges the landlord made discriminatory statements based on one of the women’s race. The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to discriminate against individuals on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability.

According to court documents, Thong Cao, owner of Thong Cao Properties, made unwanted sexual advances towards two women who lived in his properties. The complaint also states Cao harassed them, made derogatory statements based on race, and evicted them because they refused his advances.

HUD’s charge alleges Cao subjected one of the women, who was working as a property manager, to a hostile environment, including entering her apartment uninvited, sexually harassing her, and requesting sex in exchange for allowing her to stay in her unit. The charge also alleges he told her that he could be her “sugar daddy,” grabbed her buttocks, and made comments about her body to others. On one occasion she awoke to find him in her bedroom on her bed.

According to the charge, Cao also subjected a woman to a hostile environment by making numerous requests for sex when he picked up her rent payments. Once, when she was late paying a portion of her rent, he allegedly asked her if she wanted to have sex with him instead of paying the $150 she owed. When she refused the offer, Cao allegedly became very upset and immediately wrote her a 3-day notice to vacate.

Both charges will be heard by a United States Administrative Law Judge unless any party elects for the case to be heard in federal court. If the administrative law judge finds after a hearing that discrimination has occurred, he may award damages to the complainants for their loss as a result of the discrimination. The judge may also order injunctive relief and other equitable relief, as well as payment of attorney fees. In addition, the judge may impose civil penalties in order to vindicate the public interest.