Amid the #MeToo movement, Hollywood, politics and journalism have been in the crosshairs of accusations of sexual harassment and misconduct. However, the real estate industry could find itself in the crosshairs, too.
While they would certainly not be as newsworthy, that real estate firms might be ripe for their own #MeToo attention.
Bob Hunt, a former director of the National Association of REALTORS®, noted that in California, brokers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace.
“For some years now, laws on the books have required many brokers to provide periodic sexual harassment training to their supervisory personnel,” he wrote recently in Realty Times.
However, it is likely that a number of Golden State brokers and owners aren’t even aware that they are required to provide this training. Part of the reason is because the law applies to employers having 50 or more employees.
“While quite a few real estate companies have more than 50 agents, not many think of themselves as having more than 50 employees,” Hunt wrote. “A company with 50 agents could likely have fewer than 10 who are actually on payroll.”
But the law applies to more than payroll employees.
“While the law does not apply to firms with less than 50 people, that fact does not, of course exempt them, from other laws that prohibit sexual harassment or bullying,” Hunt concluded.
Client-agent sexual harassment also can be an issue.
Agents have to be trained in handling unwanted advances from clients.
In some corners of the real estate industry, there can still be a palpable sense of concern as women continue to grapple with sexism and sexual harassment.
To deal with the issues the National Association of REALTORS® has a code of conduct and sexual harassment policy. Information is available online.