Strengthen Your Sexual Harassment Policy - Grace Hill
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Strengthen Your Sexual Harassment Policy

Posted on November 13, 2017 by Grace Hill

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Strengthen Your Sexual Harassment Policy

Since January of this year, the DOJ has recovered over $1 million for victims of sexual harassment in housing.

 

Prevent sexual harassment claims with a strong anti-harassment policy.

The Justice Department (DOJ) recently announced a new initiative to combat sexual harassment against women in housing. This initiative is a signal that a strong anti-harassment policy is more important than ever. Follow these guidelines to create a policy that helps prevent costly harassment claims.

 

Be detailed about prohibited behaviors

Ensure that company policies and training clearly address and prohibit the many aspects of sexual harassment, including talking about sex with tenants or coworkers and making sexual exchanges (quid pro quo).

 

Encourage employees to come forward

A Kansas multifamily housing company recently settled with the DOJ for $365,000 plus additional procedural requirements when several of its employees engaged in hostile sexual conduct and conditioning housing benefits in exchange for sexual favors. In cases like this one, in which multiple employees are engaging in sexual harassment, it is likely that the behavior was witnessed by other employees. Create a policy that encourages employees to report any sexual harassment they are aware of. Additionally, your policy should offer multiple options for how and to whom to report the behavior and specifically prohibit retaliation.

 

Operate as though remedial measures have already been taken

An owner and manager of multiple rental properties in Michigan recently settled with the DOJ for $150,000 over sexual harassment allegations, including offering housing benefits for sexual favors, threatening to adversely react to those who objected to his behavior, and engaging in unwanted touching. As part of the settlement agreement, the Justice Department may engage in compliance testing at any of the properties, among other remedial measures.

 

It is not uncommon that in addition to hefty fines, a settlement includes remedial measures such as policy correction, additional training, and, as in the case above, compliance testing. Had these measures been taken earlier, the unlawful behavior and costly repercussions might have been avoided.

 

What would you do differently if your property was subject to random compliance testing, as the property above is? Proactively ensuring that your policies and operations would pass any such test can help you avoid costly legal actions in the future.

 

You can read more about the latest cases affecting sexual harassment housing law in Vantage Pro, our monthly compliance reporting for Platinum Vision clients.

Grace Hill’s marketing content team aims to create informative resources that help multifamily and commercial industry professionals elevate their performance. From blog posts and ebooks to infographics, checklists and webinars, the Grace Hill team has a singular focus: creating meaningful and engaging content that resonates with real estate professionals across the industry.  However, what makes Grace Hill so unique is the range of collective experience and collaborative spirit of its marketing content team. A group of talented writers with expertise in the real estate industry, overall management effectiveness, marketing strategy, and operational efficiency, the team provides new ideas to take performance to the next level. As a thought leader, Grace Hill's content team constantly pushes the envelope, experimenting with new resources and tools to keep industry professionals ahead of the curve.  Whether you're a seasoned pro or just starting out in the real estate industry, the content team at Grace Hill is creating resources to help you succeed. Learn more about Grace Hill on LinkedIn.

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