While the #MeToo movement challenges sexual harassment in the workplace, it can be easy to forget that sexual harassment harms people in several different environments–including their homes. Many women have been subjected to sexual harassment by building managers, property owners, and maintenance workers. This article will explain the steps you can take to make your home safe and free of sexual harassment.
Fair Housing Laws protect tenants from discriminatory housing and sexual harassment. This means that landlords cannot make unwanted sexual advances or comments, treat a tenant badly because of their gender, touch tenants without consent, or ask for/receive sexual favors. It is also illegal for a landlord to evict you because you reported sexual harassment.
Landlords are responsible for treating their tenants respectfully, but they are also obligated to take action if they are aware of sexual harassment occurring within their property, whether it’s by another tenant, a maintenance worker, or a property manager.
What to Do If You’ve Been Sexually Harassed
Immediately after the incident takes place (or as soon as possible), write down what happened, where and when it took place, and who was involved. Share this information with someone you trust.
Keep documents related to the harassment–this includes notes, screenshots of texts or emails, warning notices, rent increase notices, or eviction notices.
If you feel like the safety of yourself or your family is threatened, call the police immediately.
If the harassment is by a maintenance worker or tenant, alert your manager or landlord.
How to Stop the Sexual Harassment
Consulting with an attorney is always a smart decision when dealing with this problem. A lawyer can guide you through your options as a victim of sexual harassment, and help you decide how to proceed. Some of your options include:
- Your lawyer can contact the landlord to demand that the harassment stop
- The Fair Housing Agency can perform an investigation of the harassment
- A complaint can be filed with government agencies
- You can sue your harasser in court; as a victim of sexual harassment, you are entitled to punitive damages, actual damages, emotional distress damages, and attorney fees
In cases like these, it is essential to act quickly. Nobody deserves to feel unsafe in their home.
Since 1995, Castelblanco Law Group has been dedicated to helping tenants understand and assert their rights. For more information about your rights, call (213)-388-6004 or visit their website at www.castelblanco.com. The information presented in this column is for educational purposes only. You should seek the advice of an attorney regarding your individual situation.