A businesswoman in an office and a gavel next to the National Association of Realtors logo.
Illustration by Lanette Behiry/Real Estate News; Shutterstock

NAR and its president accused of racial, sexual discrimination 

A former employee has filed a lawsuit alleging she was unfairly fired after ending a relationship with National Association of Realtors President Kenny Parcell.

June 28, 2023
3 minutes

Key points:

  • NAR’s former Chief Storyteller, who is Black, said white women who complained about Parcell were not fired.
  • NAR said it investigates all claims brought to their attention and “will vigorously defend against” these allegations.

A former Chief Storyteller for the National Association of Realtors has filed suit against the organization, claiming gender and racial discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment by the organization's current president, Kenny Parcell.

A spokesman for NAR denied the claims.

Janelle Brevard, who is Black, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C., claiming she was fired after ending a sexual relationship with Parcell. Brevard first filed her complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in November, as required by law. The EEOC issued her a notice of right to sue on May 5.

Janelle Brevard, VP of Communications, National Fair Housing Alliance.
Janelle Brevard, VP of Communications, National Fair Housing Alliance.

"NAR prides itself on being a welcoming and inclusive environment for all our employees," said Mantill Williams, NAR vice president of communications. "It is our practice to fully investigate all claims that are brought to our attention and take action, as warranted. We reject the claims filed in this lawsuit and we will vigorously defend against them."

In the suit, Brevard alleges that the relationship came to light in July as part of an independent investigation of sexual harassment claims by three other women, the second such inquiry in as many years.

The investigation, conducted by the law firm Polsinelli LLC, related to allegations made by three white female employees. The staff members contended that Parcell sent "lewd text messages and photos" and initiated unwanted sexual contact, among other allegations, according to Brevard's suit. The previous year's investigation was in connection with claims by non-staff members of NAR, according to the suit.

Kenny Parcell, 2023 President, National Association of Realtors.
Kenny Parcell, 2023 President, NAR.

Though Brevard was not one of the women who complained about sexual harassment, her name was provided to the attorneys who were investigating the allegations as an employee who may have experienced similar conduct. 

In her interview with the Polsinelli attorneys, Brevard disclosed "her personal experiences with Parcell, including their sexually explicit conversations," according to the suit.

She also shared "various text messages, photos and other items evidencing the sexual relationship" between her and Parcell. Brevard told the attorneys that she had ended the months-long relationship in June of 2022, but that Parcell was angry and "and continued to engage in inappropriate sexual behavior."

The lawsuit also claims that Parcell threatened retaliation against Brevard if she refused to continue the relationship, "and he did."

The retaliation she alleges involved excluding her from meetings and business trips, and threats of termination.

Shortly after meeting with the attorneys investigating the sexual harassment claims, Brevard says she was fired for "failure to disclose a relationship with Parcell."

Two months later, Parcell became president of NAR.

"Plaintiff was the only woman who met with the Polsinelli attorneys, that was terminated," the lawsuit says, noting that the three white women who made the initial complaints were not fired.

Brevard, who is currently serving as vice president of communications for the National Fair Housing Alliance, is seeking past and future lost wages as well as punitive damages.

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