Not Starry-Eyed: Massachusetts Imposes Rigorous Standard on Fair Housing Disparate Impact Claims in Burbank Apartments

By Andrew C. Glass, Paul F. Hancock, Olivia Kelman and Joshua Butera

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) recently answered the question of whether the Massachusetts anti-discrimination statute Chapter 151B recognizes a disparate impact theory of discrimination. In Burbank Apartments Tenant Association v. Kargman, the SJC held that Chapter 151B recognizes such a theory. In doing so, however, the SJC adopted the framework from the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., and held that in pleading a disparate impact claim under Chapter 151B, a plaintiff must satisfy a rigorous burden. Because the Burbank Apartments plaintiffs failed to meet the rigorous burden, the SJC affirmed the dismissal of their claims.

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