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Sexual Harassment Defense For Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is a person licensed to help buy, sell, or rent real property for clients. An agent is capable of listing a home for sale, processing paperwork, negotiation, and finalizing sales. When it comes to real property, a real estate agent will be there from the beginning to the end. Due to the nature of their profession, they are often found in the middle of lawsuits ranging from sexual harassment allegations to fraud.

Real estate agents are administered by the Department of Real Estate, an agency that protects both real estate and clients in property related transactions. The California Department of Real Estate provides that a real estate license may be denied, suspended or revoked if the agent is convicted of a crime.

The crimes that can result in a real estate license being denied, suspended, or revoked can be found in the regulations of the Real Estate Commissioner: California Code of Regulations Title 10. They include some of the following:

  • Sex offenses: real estate agents that engage in ‘sexually related conduct’ that results in a sex crime conviction that requires the person to register as a sex offender pursuant to the clauses of Penal Code 290. A real estate agent that is a convicted sex offender may have his license denied, suspended or revoked.
  • Fraud: providing false documents, bribery, and misrepresentation to achieve an end goal
  • Breach of Real Estate Contracts: failing to uphold the provisions in a real estate contract.
  • Disclosing Property Imperfections: failing to disclose any imperfection of a building to a client. Real estate agents are responsible for the property they are selling meaning that they are required to explain any construction, electrical, or other home imperfections before the property is sold.
  • Client Injuries: real estate agents must be aware of the health and safety regulations that guide a workplace. Real estate agents must make sure the that the property they are showing is free from hazard.
  • Conduct that shows a person’s disregard for the law

In the plight of the ‘me too’ movement, the news has been filled with sexual harassment accusations from all industries including in real estate. Sexual harassment occurs for Real Estate Agents in a variety of locations including offices, homes, or apartment buildings with individuals that work at your complex, managers, supervisors, tenants, or possibly home owners.

Real estate agents have worked rigorously to obtain a real estate license. A sexual allegation can result in a license being suspended or revoked. Sexual allegations are sometimes driven by emotion which means they are based on non-factual occurrences. If you have been falsely accused, it is time to contact a local attorney to discuss your issue and possible solutions. To reach the Sexual Harassment Attorney contact us at 800-905-1856.

The following section will discuss the type of conduct that can result in a license suspension and of ways in which you can defend yourself against a sexual allegation. 

The California Bureau of Real Estate

The California Department of Real Estate (DRE) is an agency in charge of administering real estate licenses. They may deny, revoke, or suspend your real estate license if you have committed a crime related to real estate such as those mentioned above or if you fail to pay your taxes. The DRE apprehends individuals who have violated a real estate code of conduct. A disciplinary action can result in your license being restricted which means you will be placed under probation or it can result in the license being revoked. The good news is that you have the right to petition to have your license reinstated, however, you may not do so within a year of having your license revoked or suspended.

A sex crime conviction can also result in a real estate license being revoked or suspended. Real estate agents deal with clients of all colors and creeds which is why when a sex crime is committed, the DRE will suspend your ability to practice real estate in order to ensure the safety of the clients. Real estate agents who violate the sexual harassment laws in California, may risk losing their ability to sale property. If you are charged with a sexual allegation, you may want to contact an attorney today.

What Is Sexual Harassment?   

Sexual harassment is a sexual request, remark, or act that is unwelcomed by a person. Sexual harassment occurs at work, while on the way to work, or while hanging out with friends. The key factor in sexual harassment is that the sexual act or sexual remark was unwelcomed and has caused a hostile environment. At work, sexual harassment can come from your coworkers or your supervisors. Certain acts may come off as sexual but as you will see in the section below, not all acts or remarks can be considered sexual harassment under the law. Before you proceed with a sexual harassment lawsuit or if you feel that you are being sexually harassed at work, your best bet is to contact a criminal attorney. Upon describing your situation with your attorney, you will have a better understanding of how the case will hold up in a courtroom and you may also learn of ways in which you can deal with sexual harassment at work.  

In the state of California, there are two forms of sexual harassments that can occur in the workplace. First, there is sexual harassment that can come from your boss or supervisor. It is considered sexual harassment to request an employee to engage in sexual favors in return for a promotion or special treatment.  

Ex: Nancy is a new employee at her company. Her boss has been eyeing her and eventually approaches her with a request to engage in sexual favors. In return, he would promote Nancy to an upper management position. If Nancy agrees, then this type of behavior would not be considered sexual harassment. However, if after Nancy refuses the favor and her boss continues to make these types of advancements, then Nancy can bring up claims of sexual harassment considering that she had denied the requests multiple times.  

On the other hand, sexual harassment can be remarks, stares, or certain acts that create a hostile environment. These acts can include making sexual jokes at work, touching a coworker without permission, or making sexual remarks to someone that does not invite that sort of behavior.  

Ex: Tim and Nancy both work for a real estate company. Tim is consistently flirty with Nancy, he keeps on staring her down, blocks her passage whenever he gets the chance, constantly hugs her from behind, and makes sexual jokes around her. Nancy feels that she is in a hostile environment and is no longer willing to come to work. Nancy would have a good argument for sexual harassment. Tim should have gotten a clue after he noticed no response from her and he should have stopped a while ago. Tim has now created an unpleasing environment and can be charged with sexual harassment in a courtroom.  

Types of Sexual Harassment  

The Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and explains that sexual harassment is a type of workplace discrimination. According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the following acts can be considered sexual harassment in a workplace:  

  • Quid Pro Quo: as mentioned earlier, it is considered sexual harassment to offer an employee special treatment or benefits in exchange for sexual favors. 
  • Retaliation: it is considered sexual harassment to threaten someone for refusing to engage in a sexual act. 
  • Physical Contact: physical contact can assault, blocking a passageway, or skin to skin contact. It also includes groping a person's intimate body parts.  
  • Verbal Harassment: verbal harassment can include making remarks about a person’s body, talking about a sexual encounter with explicit details, making disrespectful comments, making sexual jokes, making sex noises, or using degrading language to talk about another person. 
  • Visual Conduct: visual conduct includes staring at someone for a prolonged period of time, showing a person a picture of an intimate body part, sexual cartoons, or sexual gestures. 

Engaging in the activities mentioned above is considered sexual harassment if they are unsolicited meaning that they are unappreciated or unwanted. The simple act of touching or looking at someone becomes a problem when it is repeated in a manner that causes an uncomfortable atmosphere.

Sexual Harassment Cases in Real Estate   

  • According to the Sacramento Bee, California real estate agent was sentenced to fifty years in prison for sexual assault involving a eleven-year-old child. Kristopher Jordan was charged for forced oral copulation of a child which warrants up to 15 years in prison. His bail has been set to over one million dollars. Upon release he will be required to register as a sex offender and his real estate license will most likely be revoked.
  • This case involves a sexual harassment case in a real estate company involving internal employees. The head of real estate Francis Lively at Wafra Investment Advisory Group was fired on April 2018 for sexual harassment allegations. The victim, Sabine Kraut (vice president at Wafra) claims she had endured sexual advances from Francis for up to six years. In her claims to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, she explains that Francis had written love letters, love texts to her personal number, and has called her ‘darling’ and ‘hot as a firecracker’. Additionally, Sabine explains that Lively forced a kiss on her and in another instance rubbed her thigh. Sabine Kraut also explains that on business trips he would stay in adjacent rooms and would often try to be seated next to her on the plane. She currently seeks damages from Wafra Investment Group, however, the company has acted by letting go of Francis. 

Sexual Harassment Law 

As seen above, individuals who are charged or convicted of a sex crime will have to pay high fines and/or face prison time. For this reason, if you are accused of a sexual harassment or a sex crime, it is crucial that you seek the help of an attorney who can help fight for your case. A wrongful conviction can result in the end of your career in the real estate industry.  

Sexual harassment is a violation of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII provides that on top of discrimination over a person’s sex, nationality, sexual orientation, color, or creed, it is discriminatory for sexual harassment to occur in the workplace. Furthermore, the California Government Code 12940 provides that is the responsibility of an employer to address sexual harassment in the workplace. Failing to correct the actions of an employee, supervisor or agent can result in action against the employer. 

Furthermore, the unlawful act of sexual harassment is not only male to female or female to male. The courts understand male to male or female to female sexual harassment can occur. With more and more individuals identifying as different genders, the law understands that sexual harassment can come in the form of sexual orientation harassment. For instance, making jokes or slurs about a gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender individual is a form of sexual harassment that goes against Title VII. In short, making sexual advances to someone that does not invite the behavior or humor can be punishable under the California laws.  

Legal Defense to Sexual Allegations

If you are a real estate agent that has been accused of sexual harassment, there are a number of ways that you can challenge the claims. There are a number of reasons why you may be falsely accused. For instance, your actions could have been misinterpreted, your language could have been misinterpreted, or you could have been falsely accused. The next section will discuss ways in which you can challenge sexual accusations claims.  

The actions were acceptable

  • One way you can defend yourself against sexual harassment accusations is if the actions were welcomed by the accuser. No matter how gross the act is, if the other party accepts or invites that sort of act, then he or she cannot accuse the other of sexual harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explains that harassment is unwelcome behavior or offensive. If the accuser welcomes the act then there is no way that you can be charged based on those actions. On the other hand, if your accuser has asked you to stop multiple times, then you should stop otherwise you may be held accountable for your actions. 

The actions you are being accused of never happened.

  • There are times when individuals are falsely accused whether they are confused for another person or they are simply accusing for financial gains. In cases where you have been accused of acts you did not do, you may have to provide proof that it was not you. For instance, if you were at a different location than the alleged location where and when it took place, you can provide proof that you were somewhere else. Additionally, the accused may provide that their DNA does not match the DNA found at the scene. 

You have a mental illness 

  • Individuals with mental disorders can claim that their actions were a result of their mental illness.

Your actions were not sexual 

  • Your accuser needs to provide evidence that your actions were sexual in nature. For instance, if you were patting someone’s back or you were tapping someone's shoulder without the intent to satisfy a sexual pleasure, then you may not be charged with sexual harassment. 

Your rights to free speech 

  • The First Amendment protects your freedom of speech. A person who faces harassment allegations may use the First Amendment to challenge verbal harassment allegations. Keep in mind that the freedom of speech does not protect your right to make threats to another person.

You tried to correct sexual harassment in your workplace 

  • If you are an employer, you are required to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. This means you can get rid of an employee that is sexually harassing others and you may provide sexual harassment training in your workplace. If you took the correct measures to handle the situation then you may not be charged for sexual harassment in your workplace.

Contacting a Sexual Harassment Attorney Near Me to Defend My Real Estate License 

If you have been falsely accused, you can speak with a local sexual harassment attorney about your case. It is best to proceed with a consultation before you enter a courtroom. First and foremost, you want to make sure that your case can hold up in a courtroom by discussing the specific details with a law professional. Every case has their own set of details that should be assessed before pressing charges for sexual harassment. To learn more about your case and possible defense strategies, you may contact the Sexual Harassment Lawyer at 800-905-1856. We are ready to advise you on your case and provide representation in a U.S courtroom when needed. 

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