What This Means for You as a REALTOR®
Effective Friday, November 13, 2020, NAR’s Code of Ethics now extends beyond your professional life as a REALTOR® to your personal life. This may be witnessed via social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, etc., but also includes your behavior in public, including parties with friends. These new ethical obligations do not apply to behavior that occurred prior to November 13, 2020.
The new Standard of Practice under the Article 10-5 states, “REALTORS® must not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs” against members of those protected classes. As you already know, the “protected classes include race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity”.
Question: Doesn’t this Violate My First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech?
Answer: The First Amendment provides that neither the United States Congress nor any state may abridge the freedom of speech of American citizens. With some exceptions, the First Amendment does not prohibit a private organization from restricting the speech of its members, employees, or users. NAR is a private association that is supported by dues from members, is not exercising any governmental function, and has no subpoena power or other powers generally available to state agencies. As such, the First Amendment does not preclude NAR from imposing this ethical duty as a condition of membership.
Question: Does this mean that if I post my opinion online and someone doesn’t agree with it, that I may lose my membership and be forced out of the business?
Answer: OBAR understands that this new ruling may lead to an increase in complaints against our members. Please be advised that you will be given a full and fair opportunity to present your case, defend yourself, provide evidence and witnesses, and be represented by counsel. And remember, this ONLY applies to discriminating speech towards protected classes.