federal protection


sex is a protected class

Gender as a Protected Class

One’s sex, or gender, is protected under the Federal Fair Housing Act (FHA). This means that one may not be treated differently, denied, or harassed in a housing setting or transaction because one is a boy or a girl. One gender is not more protected than another; men and women are equally protected under the FHA.

Sexual harassment is also prohibited under the FHA. It is dismaying how prevalent sexual harassment is in housing situations. It ranges from offering to demanding sex in lieu of rent, unwanted and unwelcome attention and touching, as well as inappropriate comments and jokes. For more information see the National Housing Law Project's brochure on this issue at www.FHCO.org/pdfs/SexualHarasBrochureByNationalHousingLawProject.pdf

On a somewhat related noted, Oregon and Washington state have each, essentially, created another protected class, that of domestic violence survivors. For additional information on this protected class visit www.FHCO.org/dv.htm.

It should be noted that under Oregon state law ( ORS 659A-145 & 421) a gender preference may be acted on if the housing is such that protection would result in unrelated persons of opposite sex using the same bath or bedroom facilities. That being said, advertising (written or verbal, formal or casual statements, paid or free marketing) may never legally state a preference based on protected class status.

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If you have a fair housing question, or to report a fair housing complaint, please call 503/223-8197 Ext. 2 or 800/424-3247 Ext. 2 (TTY and translation available). Alternatively, you may call HUD at 800/877-0246.

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The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and the publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.

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