April 19, 2019
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Maine rights panel finds landlord did not do enough to correct harassment of gay tenants

WALDOBORO, Maine — The Rockport-based real estate management company that owns the apartment complex knew that a gay couple living there was being harassed and should have done more to take corrective action, according to a 3-1 vote Monday by members of the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Joseph Bonnadio II and William Paquet allege that within two months of moving into the Sproul Block Apartments in January 2009 other tenants were calling them names and telling them “their kind did not belong,” according to their complaint filed with the commission.

Bonnadio and Paquet complained about the hostile housing environment at various times over several months, but the landlord, Realty Resources Management, responded only with a short note, according to the Maine Human Rights Commission’s investigator.

“The name calling that’s going on is very unfortunate. Disputes between neighbors happen from time to time and is not usually a violation of the lease. Therefore, the resolution needs to be achieved by those parties,” Realty Resources Management wrote.

The commission investigator reported that such a response was not enough to comply with state law.

“It is clear that [Realty Resources Management] knew or should have known about the sexual orientation harassment and failed to take any corrective action … as they are required to,” the investigator wrote.

The commissioners voted 3-1 to find reasonable grounds that unlawful discrimination occurred.

In such cases, both parties are encouraged to reconcile and reach a settlement. If conciliation fails, the complainant may file a civil lawsuit in Maine Superior Court, where a binding settlement can include monetary damages.

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