Apartment Owner Ordered to Pay $244,000 in Sexual Harassment Case
Arthur Burton the owner of a Kettering apartment complex in Ohio was ordered to pay a total of $244,000 to a young woman who was an employee and tenant. According to the sexual harassment lawsuit, Burton asked the young woman about her sex life, about when she last had it, and most persistently, whether she would have sex with him. She always said no. According to the lawsuit, this all started when the woman was 20 and moved into the apartment. The apartment door had been kicked in, and Burton came by to fix it. During the week she lived there, he never finished the job. Instead, he asked her questions about herself. Soon, he was propositioning her for sex.
According to the lawsuit the woman came to his apartment to work on his computer, and Burton had pornography playing on the television. She reported this harassment to the police and they said this was a he said, she said and she needed evidence. She hid a digital recorder in her bra and recorded their future conversations. The transcript of her conversations with Burton, made on April 13, 2007, runs nearly 150 pages. It contains much mundane conversation about Burton’s business, but the topic of sex keeps returning. Burton tells her she turns him on. He asks her if she is attracted to him. He repeatedly propositions her. Some of his conversations could be seen as vailed threats of retaliation.
"You’re probably a sexual dynamo, aren’t you?” he asked. “I ain’t going to answer that question,” she replied, according to a transcript of a conversation she secretly taped.
The woman mentions several times that she was offended that he offered to pay her for sex. Burton explains repeatedly that he didn’t want her to lose money for sex with him during working hours. In Illinois it is illegal to tape a conversation without the consent of both parties or without a court order as Illinois is one of twelve states that require all party consent.
The jury awarded the woman $150,000 in compensatory damages and $50,000 in punitive damages. The jury also awarded nearly $44,000 in damages to the Fair Housing Advocates Association, which helped bring the case to court.