Grand Rapids, MI- If you think sexual harassment suits are solely relegated to the workplace, you’re wrong. There are a number of business relationships that are subject civil suits in light of harassment that includes the relationship between a landlord and a tenant.

This week, 13 women, who filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against their landlord, were awarded $510,000 to be split among them after a federal judge gave his approved the settlement, according to CBS.

In the lawsuit, which was filed last September, the women alleged that the Alger Meadows manager Dale Vander Vennen subjected them to repeated sexual harassment. According to the allegations, Vander Vennen would enter the plaintiffs’ apartments without their permission and made unwanted sexual comments and advances and allegedly touched himself in front of them. He offered rental benefits in exchange for sexual favors, CBS reported. When the women refused his advances, Vander Vennen retaliated against them.

By reaching the settlement Vander Vennen nor his co-defendants which include Jack and Linda Properties, DDJ Rental Real Estate, Calcutta Associates and LLJ, admitted to any wrong doing. They will pay a total of $550 to settle the case, $40,000 of which goes to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The remaining amount will go to the victims.

As part of the settlement agreement, Vander Vennen is prohibited from working at or owning any apartment complexes in the future. He must also place an ad to determine if there are any more victims.

Settlements are common in sexual harassment cases since litigating them can be costly for an employer or business. The EEOC reports that out of the 21,088 complaints of workplace harassment they received in 2012, roughly 9 percent of claims were settled out of court. Instead of facing expensive legal fees and negative publicity, companies see sexual harassment settlements as the best way to put the matter behind them.

The first stage in the sexual harassment settlement process is to file a formal complaint with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and initiate an investigation. If the agency determines, the complaints have merit, they will allow the case to proceed. At this point, the victim can allow the agency to represent them or hire a sexual harassment attorney to file a suit on their behalf. Bear in mind if you choose to proceed with the EEOC, the settlement amount your receive will be capped, but no such caps apply when you have a private attorney.

Most businesses aren’t going to agree to a settlement when they first receive a complaint; they want the time to investigate and determine if the allegations have merit first. This is unless they have received similar complaints about the same individual before. In that case, they still conduct an investigation but may be will to settle quickly.

If you want to negotiate the best settlement possible, you need an accomplished sexual harassment attorney in your court. Their knowledge and expertise will be instrumental in proving the harassment and securing a generous settlement.