The Grace Hill training tip of the week focuses on The Fair Housing Act and how to respond to a sexual harassment complaint.
HUD aggressively pursues violations of The Fair Housing Act (FHA) involving harassment in housing and complaints often name property managers directly. So, do you know how to respond and stay on top of the situation?
Remember, courts have consistently recognized sexual harassment as a form of discrimination that violates the FHA.
In addition to individual property managers directly, the complaint may name the corporate entity or owner associated with the complainant’s housing.
Any individual or company that has witnessed or experienced housing discrimination, including sexual harassment, may file a complaint with HUD, free of charge
Four Ways to Respond if You Find Yourself Facing a Sexual Harassment Complaint
If a complaint has been filed against you, you will be notified by HUD, and you will have 10 days to respond.
No. 1 – Prioritize Mail from HUD
Due to the tight window a company has for responding to a complaint, make sure anyone responsible for collecting mail at your facilities is trained to give mail from HUD priority attention and to forward it to the appropriate person immediately.
No. 2 – Respond to Complaints
Although filing an answer is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged.
Responding gives you an opportunity to give your version of the story and provide sufficient information that may convince HUD that it should not pursue the matter further.
No. 3 – Involve Legal Counsel Early
Because your answer will become part of the official case record and any representations can and will be used against you in future proceedings, it is strongly encouraged that you seek the assistance of legal counsel in responding to a HUD complaint.
In addition, legal counsel can likely negotiate an extension of time to respond.
No. 4 – Notify Your Insurance Company Early
As soon as you know a complaint has been filed, you should notify your insurance company.
There may be insurance to cover the allegations of the complaint. If there is coverage, the insurance company will only be there to help you if they are notified early.
It is a situation we all hope we never have to face. However, in this time of increased awareness around harassment, it is important to have a game plan for a quick and appropriate response to harassment complaints.
Reprinted by Permission. Source: Rental Housing Journal. ©2018 Professional Publishing Inc. All Rights Reserved. Email: info@ProPublic.com Visit www.rentalhousingjournal.com or call (503) 221-1260
Ellen Clark is the Director of Assessment at Grace Hill. Her work has spanned the entire learner lifecycle, from elementary school through professional education. For nearly two decades, Grace Hill has been developing best-in-class online training courseware and administration solely for the Property Management Industry, designed to help people, teams and companies improve performance and reduce risk
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