On behalf of the American Bankers Association and state bankers associations across the country, K&L Gates partner Paul F. Hancock and associate Olivia Kelman crafted a comment that was submitted to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD” or “Department”) on August 20, 2018, in support of reopening rulemaking regarding the Department’s implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard. On June 20, 2018, HUD issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that sought public comment on possible amendments to the Department’s 2013 final disparate impact rule in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc., 135 S. Ct. 2507 (2015). In that decision, the Supreme Court articulated the standards for, and the constitutional limitations on, disparate impact claims under the Fair Housing Act. The comment explains that the rule should be amended because it adopts standards that are inconsistent with Supreme Court precedent, fails to provide much needed guidance to entities seeking to comply with the law, and is therefore outdated and ineffective. A copy of the comment is available here.
K&L Gates LLP previously observed that the U.S. Supreme Court’s recognition of disparate-impact claims under the Fair Housing Act in Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. had a “silver lining.” In particular, the Supreme Court identified that a plaintiff must meet a rigorous standard to establish a prima facie case of disparate-impact discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. On remand, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas applied that standard, holding that the plaintiff fell far short of meeting the Supreme Court’s “proof regimen” necessary to sustain a disparate-impact claim. The district court’s decision reaffirms that, in interpreting the Supreme Court’s decision properly, a Fair Housing Act plaintiff proceeding under a disparate-impact theory faces a significant burden.
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