Sexual Harassment in Real Estate

Sexual harassment is a prevalent offense that exists in hundreds of workplaces in California. It can take many forms, from unwanted touching to attempted rape. Sexual harassment is an offense that can make going to work intolerable or dangerous for employees. No workplace is safe from sexual harassment – including California’s booming real estate industry. If you work in real estate and have experienced sexual harassment, abuse, discrimination or assault, you have rights. Speak to a California sexual harassment lawyer for more information today.

Sexual Harassment In The Real Estate Industry

The real estate industry is especially dangerous for workers in terms of sexual harassment and assault. With private showings and one-on-one consultations, there are many opportunities for two people to be alone together in realty. A superior or coworker could easily take advantage of an employee in one of these situations. An employee may feel the pressure of giving in to a boss’s demands for a promotion or better listing. In addition, realtors with high-value properties who deal with clients with luxurious lifestyles may have clients who do not treat them professionally.

Recently, the passing of Senate Bill 224 in California expanded sexual harassment liability for real estate agents. It lowered the bar for the elements of proof a client needs to bring a sexual harassment claim against a real estate agent. Under this law, even if a professional relationship did not exist, a real estate agent could face charges for sexual harassment if he or she commits this offense while in a position to assist the client professionally.

What Is Sexual Harassment In California?

Workplace sexual harassment in California can refer to any unwanted, unsolicited or nonconsensual touching in the workplace. This can include hugs, kisses, pats, massages and other types of touching. Inappropriate or offensive facial expressions or gestures can also be sexual harassment. Sexual Harassment can also be nonphysical. Saying certain things in the workplace, such as asking a coworker out on a date or requesting sexual favors, can also meet the definition of sexual harassment.

Workplace sexual harassment can refer to offensive behaviors at work, such as posting lewd images where everyone can see them or sending sexualized emails. Finally, sexual harassment can include discrimination based on sex, gender, gender identity, pregnancy or childbirth. Sexual harassment may escalate into the crime of sexual assault if the perpetrator attempts or succeeds in touching, fondling, molesting or raping the victim. In California, the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act specifically identifies two forms of workplace sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

Quid Pro Quo

Quid pro quo sexual harassment takes the form of a proposed exchange. It is Latin for something for something. In most sexual harassment quid pro quo cases, a superior offers an employee something in return for sexual favors, such as a promotion for a kiss or going out on a date. If a superior turns sexual favors or acts into conditions for hiring, employment, promotions, special projects or benefits, it is quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment is one in which an employee does not feel safe or cannot be productive. If a perpetrator’s sexual harassment is persistent or severe enough, it can create a hostile work environment. The victim may then be unable to do his or her job successfully. The victim may feel threatened, intimidated, offended or endangered enough to have to quit or take a demotion. It is possible to experience a hostile work environment even if you are not the direct victim of sexual harassment.

National Association Of Realtors Code Of Conduct And Sexual Harassment Policy

Most industries have specific codes and regulations in place to prevent sexual harassment. In realty, this law is the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Code of Conduct and Sexual Harassment Policy. This policy applies to all NAR-related events and meetings, as well as communications from a member of NAR. The policy prohibits harassment in any form, including discrimination. It specifically bans sexual harassment, whether it is physical, verbal or nonverbal.

The policy also has instructions on how to report harassment or inappropriate behaviors, as well as a summary of how NAR will investigate allegations and take disciplinary action when necessary. It explains that if NAR determines harassment has occurred, the offender could lose NAR membership and any committee appointments, be banned from attending future NAR events, and face other penalties as the NAR sees fit.

Real Estate Sexual Harassment Training Requirements

The NAR Sexual Harassment Policy is not the real estate industry’s only protection against sexual harassment and discrimination. In California, state laws also enforce strict training requirements in the realty industry to prevent and stop harassment. Senate Bill No. 1343 requires sexual harassment prevention training for all employees in workplaces – not just superiors. Any workplace with five or more employees – including independent contractors – must provide this type of training.

In any California workplace, employers must provide at least two hours of training and education on the subjects of sexual harassment, discrimination and abusive conduct. They must do so within six months of someone’s employment in a supervisory position, as well as once every two years thereafter. SB 1343 also requires at least one hour of sexual harassment training every two years for all employees who are not in supervisory positions. The law also requires workplaces to keep online training programs and sexual harassment prevention information on their websites.

Schedule A Free Consultation With A Sexual Harassment Lawyer

The real estate industry is one of many that exposes workers in California to a high risk of harassment, abuse and discrimination. If you experienced any type of sexual harassment at work in realty, contact Manly, Stewart & Finaldi right away for a free consultation with an attorney. Our sexual harassment attorneys in California will understand how to assist you with a case in the realty industry.

The lawyers at Manly, Stewart & Finaldi have years of experience exclusively handling sexual harassment and abuse cases. We understand how sexual abuse occurs and how to hold perpetrators accountable in California. We can assist you with a complaint, claim and/or lawsuit involving real estate sexual harassment. Your employer or another party could owe you restitution and compensation for your harassment-related losses. Call (855) 397-3146 for a free case review today.