Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) announced the settlement of a housing discrimination case asserting sexual harassment against the owners and managers of an apartment complex in California. The total amount paid by the Respondents to “several women” to resolve the fair housing claim is $14,500.
Although factual details of the alleged misconduct were not provided (and the allegations were denied in the settlement agreement), the claims of sexual harassment were severe enough such that one of the Respondents was “permanently prohibited from directly or indirectly engaging in or conducting any property management responsibilities.” In addition to paying the women who filed the complaint $10,000, the Respondents also agreed to pay two other women $4,500. As a part of the settlement, as is common in these matters, the owners and manager also agreed to fair housing training.
The takeaway: Given that a property manager was barred from the industry because of alleged sexual misconduct, it seems to me that the financial component could have been even higher. Another cautionary tale that professional apartment management must train our team members to follow the law and not engage in prohibited conduct. And if anyone sees or becomes aware of unlawful harassment (involving employees, residents, guests, or applicants) in the apartment management workplace, including sexual harassment (by a colleague, superior, or subordinate) it is important to raise those concerns with a supervisor. If the allegation is against a supervisor, the best practice is to go to the next level supervisor or to human resources (in a medium to larger company) or to the owner (in a smaller shop).
Just A Thought.