Baltimore public housing officials agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit for up to $8 million with tenants who accused maintenance workers of sexual harassment, the Baltimore Sun reports.
According to the lawsuit, workers demanded sexual favors from the victims in exchange for making repairs. Those who refused the sexual advances endured life-threatening conditions in their units, such as exposed electrical wiring and mold.
“Mistakes have been made here, and some of them very serious,” Baltimore Housing Commissioner Paul T. Graziano said at a news conference Friday.
NBC News reports that officials fired at least 50 workers at the Gilmor Homes, Westport and Govans Manor projects. No one has been charged with a crime but an investigation is underway.
Sara Garret, one of the 19 female plaintiffs, said two workers harassed her for several years. Court documents said she and her four children lived with exposed wires and a broken stove in their apartment.
Baltimore City Housing officials will relocate Garret and the 18 other original plaintiffs publicly identified in the lawsuit to new addresses.
Other victims will have 60 days after a court and federal authorities approve the settlement to come forward and apply to join the case. All of the plaintiffs will split the settlement.
Graziano vowed to make a number of changes to protect tenants from “the atrocious behavior of a small group of people who inflicted indignity of an indescribable nature.”
Among the changes going forward, officials will conduct ongoing sexual harassment training and establish a computerized system for tenants to request repairs.