What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment includes any unwanted sexual advance, request for sexual favors, or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can occur to any person, male or female, and can be committed by someone of the same sex or someone of the opposite sex.
Sexual harassment committed by a landlord, real estate agent, building manager, loan officer, insurance agent, or any other person involved in a real estate-related transaction, is a violation of the Fair Housing Act. In some instances, property owners or managers may be held responsible for failing to help a tenant who they know is being harassed by another tenant or neighbor.
Examples of sexual harassment in housing include:
- Requesting rent to be paid in sexual favors instead of money;
- Conditioning home repairs or other housing benefits on performance of a sexual behavior;
- Other preferential treatment in exchange for sexual favors;
- A housing provider, real estate agent, insurance, or loan officer, or their employee making sexual comments or using sexual words in front of you and/or your family;
- A housing provider, real estate agent, insurance or loan officer, or their employee touching your for you to remove your clothing;
- A housing provider or their employee refusing to help after being informed that another tenant is sexually harassing you.
Sexual Harassment Under the Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act recognizes two types of sexual harassment:
1. Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
When a housing provider or their employee conditions housing or housing-related services or transactions on sexual conduct.
2. Hostile Environment Harassment
When a housing provider or their employee, or in certain circumstances another tenant, engages in sexual behavior of such severity or pervasiveness that it alters the terms or conditions of tenancy and results in an environment that is intimidating, hostile, offensive, or otherwise significantly less desirable.
Both types of harassment are illegal and violate the Fair Housing Act, even if the victim ultimately submitted to the unwanted sexual conduct. Sexual harassment still violates the Fair Housing Act even if the victim did not experience the loss of a housing opportunity or some tangible economic loss. The victim can be anyone affected by the harassment, not just the person harassed. For example, a child may be victimized because a parent has been harassed.
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