Supreme Court Rules That Disparate-Impact Claims Should Be Allowed Under the Fair Housing Act

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that housing discrimination lawsuits could be brought under a theory of “disparate-impact.”   The decision provides a broad interpretation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968’s primary mandate, which makes it illegal to deny the sale or rental of property to a person “because of race, color, religion or national origin.”  A disparate-impact claim seeks to demonstrate that a given housing decision or policy has a discriminatory effect on a protected group of people, even if there is no evidence of intent to discriminate.  In the present case, the Supreme Court upheld the use of statistical evidence to show that the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs had contributed to “segregated housing patterns by allocating too many tax credits in housing in predominantly black inner-city areas and too few in predominantly white suburban neighborhoods.”   We anticipate these cases will be decided like employment cases that allege disparate impact in employment decisions.  They are often difficult to prove without significant statistical data.

About the Author

Patricia Mullins-Freeman

Patricia (Peezy) Mullins-Freeman’s practice focuses primarily on employment law and health care law. Peezy also works with many employers in defense and investigation of... More about Patricia Mullins-Freeman

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