Even though there are times when an initial complaint was found to be wholly without merit, fair housing investigators will look harshly on management when they believe retaliation has taken place. How should management work to prevent these cases? Do not treat someone differently because he or she filed a previous complaint; draft a written policy in place making it clear retaliation will not be permitted; and train employees that retaliation in housing is against the law. Once a complaint comes in from a resident stating that he was retaliated against, conduct an inquiry (typically either through a Human Resources official or counsel) to review the facts and communicate the result of that investigation.
The Fair Housing Act (FHA) makes it clear that management cannot retaliate against anyone because he or she participated in a prior action. More and more often complaints are filed by persons alleging they were retaliated against by management because of a previously filed fair housing complaint or because they assisted with another complaint.