Antidiscrimination Law

Washington Supreme Court holds racial covenants in public records must be retained but can be marked void

Construing a state statute, Wash. Stat. §49.60.227, the Washington Supreme Court held that racial covenants cannot be completely excised from public records. The court determined that the statute allowed a court order to be filed with the recorded title voiding the covenant but did not authorize excising the covenant from the public records entirely. This result occurred despite the fact that the statute provided that courts should “strik[e] the void provisions from the public records.” Wash. Stat. §49.60.227(1)(b). The statute did provide that the original record “shall be separately... Read more about Washington Supreme Court holds racial covenants in public records must be retained but can be marked void

Probation on discriminating against Section 8 recipients does not violate due process

The Minnesota Supreme Court has held that a state statute that prohibits landlords from refusing to rent to housing voucher (Section 8) recipients does not violate the due process or equal protection clauses of the Minnesota Constitution. Fletcher Properties, Inc. v. City of Minneapolis, 947 N.W.2d 1 (Minn. 2020). While federal law does not require landlords to rent to...

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Federal court rejects claim for religious or speech exemption from state public accommodations law for wedding photographer

A federal judge for the Western District of New York has ruled that the state public accommodations statute can be applied to a wedding photographer who refused to provide services for same-sex couples. Carpenter v. James, 2021 WL 5879090 (W.D.N.Y. 2021). On the speech claim, the court assumed that the law compelled speech on the part of the photographer but held that...

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Sexual harassment of tenant by property manager violates Fair Housing Act

The Eleventh Circuit joins other courts that have held that sexual harassment by a landlord (or an agent of the landlord) can constitute sex discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §3601 to §3613 if the behavior would not have occurred but for the tenant's sex.

This formulation has been adopted by other courts, see United States v. Hurt, 676 F.3d 649 (9th Cir. 2012), Quigley v. Winter, 598 F.3d 938 (8th Cir. 2010), and suggests that a landlord that sexually harasses both men and women would not be liable for engaging in sex discrimination — a result that...

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Two customers of hotel awarded $475,000 each for denial of equal services under West Virginia state public accommodation law

Erik Taylor and James Turner sought long term rentals at a hotel to work on a local pipeline project in West Virginia. When Taylor called the hotel to inquire about long term apartment rooms, he was told they were available, only to be told the opposite by manager Cindy Kay Adams when he arrived. She falsely told him that there was a waiting list for those rooms...

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A third case granting a wedding provider a free speech exemption from an antidiscrimination law

For the third time, a court has held that a public accommodations law cannot be enforced against a service provider who objects, for religious reasons, to same sex marriage. Chelsey Nelson Photography, LLC v. Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Gov’t, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 146246 (W.D. Ky. 2020). The other two times were: Telescope Media Group...

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Trump administration withdraws Obama era rules on “affirmatively furthering fair housing” (AFFH)

Although the Fair Housing Act (FHA) requires any government entity managing or receiving federal funds “affirmatively to further fair housing,” (AFFH), 42 U.S.C. §3608(e)(5), enforcement of this provision has been remarkably lax since the passage of the FHA in 1968.

 

The Obama Administration...

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City can enforce ban on pit bulls against resident who needs emotional support animal when he had other dogs that might serve that purpose

The Nebraska Supreme Court faced a claim by a resident that he had a right under fair housing laws to a reasonable accommodation of a city law that prohibited residents from owning pit bulls due to their perceived dangerousness. Wilkison v. City of Arapahoe, 926 N.W.2d 441 (Neb. 2019). Because the resident had other dogs, and he could not prove that they could not serve...

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Resolving conflicts between tenant with allergies and those needing support animals

In a case typical of a property law class, the Supreme Court of Iowa confronted a conflict between one tenant who needed an emotional support animal and another who was allergic to dogs. Cohen v. Clark, 945 N.W.2d 792 (Iowa 2020). The lease for both tenants contained a “no pets” clause. The question was whether the landlord had a duty under fair housing laws to make an exception...

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