Woman withdraws case accusing NAR, Kenny Parcell of harassment

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Janelle Brevard initially sued the National Association of Realtors, claiming her firing was a form of harassment and retaliation. The case ended Thursday, though many questions still remain.

Nine days after accusing the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and President Kenny Parcell of racial and sexual harassment, a woman who used to work for the trade organization has withdrawn her case — ending a tumultuous chapter for the industry while leaving many questions unanswered.

Kenny Parcell

The plaintiff in the case, Janelle Brevard, formerly worked for NAR as its chief storyteller. She initially filed her lawsuit on June 27, claiming Parcell retaliated against her, and that NAR ultimately fired her, after she broke off a relationship with him. The suit, which mentioned Parcell by name but only listed NAR as a defendant, also alleged Brevard was singled out for being Black.

However, court documents show that Brevard and her attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the case on Thursday. The motion asked to dismiss the case “with prejudice,” which in legal terms means she cannot file the suit again.

In an email to Inman, NAR confirmed the case had been withdrawn.

But neither the court documents nor NAR’s statement offered any indication as to why the case was ending so quickly. Other unrelated legal cases have ended in motions to dismiss because defendants offered plaintiffs financial settlements, because of a lack of evidence, because the plaintiffs changed their minds, or for an array of other reasons.

NAR did not provide additional details about what happened, and Brevard’s attorneys did not respond to Inman’s request for comment. Parcell also has not responded to Inman’s repeated request for comment, including one made Thursday.

That means the question of what factors contributed to the suit’s dismissal remained publicly unanswered.

Still, the case sent waves through the real estate industry after it was filed. In the complaint, Brevard claimed that while working for NAR she had a relationship with Parcell — then serving as the organization’s president-elect — that involved “sexually explicit conversations as well as Parcell’s request for sexual favors.”

The complaint additionally states that Brevard had “various text messages, photos and other items evidencing the sexual relationship” with Parcell.

However, Brevard told Parcell she wanted to end the relationship in June 2022, and later spoke to attorneys about her experiences, the complaint states. In response, Parcell allegedly began excluding her from work activities and disparaging her. Finally, NAR fired Brevard — something the complaint describes as racial harassment because three other women who are white and also spoke to attorneys about Parcell did not lose their jobs.

The complaint ultimately listed six counts of racial and sexual harassment. It asked for monetary damages and a jury trial, among other things.

The case quickly prompted discussion within the industry, with many saying that instances of harassment are too common and must be stopped. Some industry members also called for Parcell’s ouster.

However, several days after Brevard filed the suit, NAR revealed that it had already been aware of the allegations and had previously hired an outside law firm to investigate them. And in a statement to Inman, the trade organization said that “based on the findings of that independent, third party investigation, we reject the claims filed in this lawsuit and we will vigorously defend against them.”

NAR did not say when the outside investigation occurred nor did it share details about the findings.

Though many questions remain, and while Brevard’s suit is now over, the case is likely to remain a point of discussion within the industry for some time as real estate professionals debate the broader issues such as racial and sexual discrimination that it raised.

Read the motion to dismiss here: 

Update: This story was updated after publication with additional details from the original complaint. 

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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