Can I Sue If My Apartment Landlord or Maintenance Worker is Sexually Harassing Me?

While not strictly an employment law question, we have been asked whether a tenant can sue his or her landlord for sexual harassment.

Apartment ComplexThe law is very specific in regards to who can sue who for what, at least when it comes to workplace harassment. As we’ve discussed, contractors are not legally given the same kind of protection as regular employees. They are not allowed to sue an employer for sexual harassment, even if they’re harassed by an employee or a manager. The issue is because the contractor does not actually work for the employer.

Private citizens face these same issue as well, even when interacting with an employee at a workplace. For example, even if a car salesperson harasses a customer, the customer has no legal recourse.

And if an apartment landlord or maintenance person harasses a tenant, the tenant has no real recourse either.

That’s because a landlord-tenant relationship falls under the same issues as contractors and private citizens. While the tenant and landlord or apartment management company have a business relationship, they don’t have an employer/employee relationship. This holds true for all employees of the apartment building or complex, such as maintenance workers or groundskeepers.

However, if a tenant was late with his or her rent and the apartment manager offered free rent in exchange for sexual favors, that’s actually illegal. It’s considered solicitation or prostitution. It still wouldn’t be considered sexual harassment, but there are grounds for other legal pursuits.

Only certain relationships are covered under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. And even then, there may be certain criteria that must be met. Contractor-Employer, Private Citizen-Employee, and Landlord-Tenant relationships are not protected under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act. If you experience harassment under any of those kinds of relationships, there’s nothing that can be done legally.

(That doesn’t stop you from telling your friends and family about it though.)

If you have experienced workplace harassment of any other kind, or believe you are being sexually harassed by a co-worker or boss, please contact the Cassis Law Office at (502) 736-8100.


Photo credit: Greg Goebel (Flickr, Creative Commons)