Syracuse, NY – Today (June 19), CNY Fair Housing and eight women announced that a settlement has been reached in a federal civil rights lawsuit against Doug Waterbury, a landlord in the city of Oswego, and his corporate entities.
Under the settlement agreement, Waterbury will be permanently barred from managing rental properties and will be required to pay $400,000 in monetary relief.
The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in August 2017 in the Northern District of New York alleging that female tenants and prospective tenants of rental properties owned by Waterbury were subjected to egregious sexual harassment, including unwanted sexual contact, in violation of the federal fair housing law.
The Fair Housing Act protects against discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment, in housing related transactions.
Under the consent decree, which has been filed with the Court for signature, Waterbury will be required to employ an independent management company that is approved by CNY Fair Housing to manage his rental properties.
He is prohibited from having any contact with tenants or prospective tenants and from entering any occupied rental properties he owns.
CNY Fair Housing will monitor the properties to ensure continued compliance with the agreement.
Waterbury owns approximately 50 properties in the Oswego area and is also the owner of several local amusement attractions, including the Sterling Renaissance Festival, Sylvan Beach Amusement Park, and Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, New York.
“We are pleased to have reached a settlement agreement that will get Doug Waterbury out of the rental business,” said CNY Fair Housing’s Executive Director Sally Santangelo. “We admire the incredible bravery of the many women who stepped forward. No woman should be subjected to sexual harassment and nowhere should a woman feel safer than in her own home. CNY Fair Housing is committed to holding accountable anyone who would violate that right.”
CNY Fair Housing Cooperating Attorneys from the firm Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC and Staff Attorney Conor Kirchner represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.
CNY Fair Housing is a nonprofit organization that works to eliminate housing discrimination, promote open communities, and ensure equal access to housing opportunity for all people in Central and Northern New York.
CNY Fair Housing enforces fair housing laws, provides free legal representation to victims of housing discrimination, educates housing providers and other professionals on fair housing rights and responsibilities, and provides technical assistance to municipalities and housing authorities in an eight-county area.
The work that provided the basis for this publication was funded under a Fair Housing Initiatives Program grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.