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April 6, 2020

Former landlord’s estate settles Gilroy harassment claim

State housing authorities recently settled a sexual harassment complaint against a Gilroy landlord who died in 2018. The case involved a young mother who accused the landlord of asking her for sex and other inappropriate conduct over a period of several years, according to a press release from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

As a result of the settlement, the late landlord’s wife—a co-owner of the property where the alleged harassment occurred—and his estate will pay $155,000 to the tenant and other parties, according to authorities.

The tenant filed a complaint with the state DFEH in August 2017, alleging that her landlord—after her husband moved out—began texting and calling her asking for dates, according to the press release. The tenant also accused the landlord, identified in court documents as Brian Hynek, of making lewd comments about her physical appearance.

The tenant told authorities that Hynek’s behavior worsened over time at the two-unit residential property on Dowdy Street, as he left her explicit voicemail messages, entered the apartment when nobody was home and was seen looking through the unit’s windows on multiple occasions.

DFEH found cause to believe the landlord had violated the Fair Employment and Housing Act, and filed a lawsuit against Hynek’s estate and his wife, Gayl Hynek, according to authorities. Gayl Hynek was a co-owner of the rental property at the time of the alleged violations.

Gayl Hynek’s attorney, Daniel Jensen, said the case was resolved through mediation.

Project Sentinel, a California fair-housing organization, intervened in the case, according to the press release from DFEH.

“It is intolerable that anyone should experience harassment as a condition of having a place to live,” said DFEH Director Kevin Kish. “We encourage anyone who experiences sexual harassment in housing to file a complaint, and we will continue to hold landlords to account.”

Defendants will pay $155,000 to settle the case, according to the press release. The sum includes damages to the tenant and Project Sentinel, as well as attorney’s fees and costs to DFEH. The defendants also agreed that renting the unit in the future will trigger an obligation to develop a new anti-discrimination policy, distribute that policy and fair housing brochures to tenants, and undergo fair housing training.

Jensen added, “No one admitted fault; the insurance company made the decision to make a payment” to settle the case.

To file a complaint with DFEH, call 800-884-1684; email [email protected]; or visit the website 

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