ABUSE CLAIMS-Two female tenants of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Madison Hotel on Skid Row are suing the billion-dollar nonprofit for failing to stop sexual harassment and discrimination at the single-occupancy residential building.
The two tenants, one of whom uses a wheelchair, allege that AHF and its counsel ignored complaints that a security guard and handyman had abused them. They claim AHF “took no reasonable steps to protect its tenants from sexual predators,” says their lawsuit, which was recently filed in the Superior Court of California, Los Angeles.
The lawsuit includes graphic descriptions of the actions that claim to have taken place at the AHF-owned facility to the two female tenants. It includes specific alleged episodes of verbal and physical sexual abuse at the residential building and assails AHF for not responding to complaints of women living at the Hotel.
“AIDS Healthcare Foundation knew, or should have known, especially after the verbal and written reports of sexual harassment at the hands of contractors or employees at the Madison, that female tenants were unsafe,” the lawsuit notes.
“The despicable actions of these defendants were deliberate and intentional, and therefore entitle Plaintiffs to recover punitive damages in a sum sufficient to punish and deter these defendants from future similar conduct,” says the suit.
The tenants claim they are suffering from “irreparable loss and injury, including but not limited to loss of civil rights, physical assault, embarrassment, fear, anxiety, several emotional distress, humiliation.”
The two are seeking undisclosed amounts of punitive, compensatory, and statutory damages. In addition, they are seeking legal action to require AHF to provide anti-discrimination and sexual harassment training to its employees, post policies on gender discrimination, and take other actions to stop sexual harassment.
This lawsuit is yet another that has been filed against AHF by its low-income tenants at the Madison. Last March, in a lawsuit highlighted in the Los Angeles Times, AHF was accused of “allowing slum-like conditions to fester at the aging 220-unit building.”
In that lawsuit, tenants complained of persistent mold, bedbugs, roach infestations, plumbing and electricity problems that AHF failed to address. “One of the most serious accusations,” noted the Times, “involves the elevator, which has been out of order for nine months, tenants say, forcing elderly and disabled renters to labor up to five floors on foot.”
(Steven Maviglio is the spokesperson for Californians for Responsible Housing. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of CityWatch or other writers and contributors.) Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.