A federal district court judge has approved the payment of 327-thousand dollars in compensation and fines in a case in which 10 Davenport women claimed sexual harassment and discrimination against their landlords.
Landlords John and Maura Burche had filed for bankruptcy after their 2004 trial in the case ended with a judgment against them — but the federal judge said they had to sell 10 of their properties to pay the judgment. Ralph Rosenberg is the executive director of the Iowa Civil Rights Commission.
Rosenberg says he’s pleased for the tenants and for the operation of the Civil Rights law that got a strong ruling from the courts. The 10 women said John Burche coerced sexual favors from them in exchange for reduced rent or gifts. The women say there are low-income and had few other housing options.
Rosenberg says this case is unusual. He says the case was fairly involved, and says “it was very unusual for a bankruptcy judge to force the sale of properties in order to pay for this.” Four of the women will receive 35-thousand dollars and six will receive 25-thousand dollars. Rosenberg says that’s a large judgment for this type of case.
Rosenberg says, “Many cases are resolved confidentially, so most of our cases you never read about.” Rosenberg says the cases are often settled, mediated or withdrawn, and he says this case reminds people of the statutes. Rosenberg says this case should show people that you can get justice if you feel you’ve been discriminated against.
Rosenberg says you should call his office at 1-800-457-4416 if you think you might have a case. Rosenberg says a call doesn’t guarantee that they’ll advise you to file a claim, but he says they will review your case carefully. The State of Iowa and the Davenport Civil Rights Commission were each awarded 10-thousand dollars as part of the case.