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FOX V. GAINES: THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT RECOGNIZES SEXUAL HARASSMENT AS A FORM OF SEX DISCRIMINATION


In Fox v. Gaines, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit addressed for the first time whether sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This case arose when the appellant, Rita Fox (“Fox”), was evicted from her apartment by the property manager, Dana Gaines (“Mr. Gaines”), after ending her sexual relationship with him. Fox sued both Mr. Gaines and the property owner, Lucille Gaines (“Ms. Gaines”), for sexual harassment under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) and the Florida Fair Housing Act. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida dismissed Fox’s complaint, concluding that there is no cause of action for sexual harassment under the FHA. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit vacated and remanded the district court’s ruling, holding that sexual harassment is actionable under the FHA “both [in the form of] hostile housing environment and quid pro quo sexual harassment,” if the plaintiff demonstrates that sex was the but-for cause of the harassment.




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