Sep 1, 2015

The clash between disability law, medical marijuana law and criminal law--what gives?

In a case of first impression the District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan ruled that a recipient of a legal medical card to use marijuana for medical purposes was not entitle to a reasonable accommodation under the Fair Housing Act and that the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act was preempted by the Controlled Substance Act.
The Plaintiff suffered from Multiple Sclerosis and received social security supplemental income. The Plaintiff’s doctor prescribed medical marijuana to help with her symptoms. The state of Michigan provided Plaintiff with a medical marijuana card pursuant to the Michigan Medical Marijuana Act. 

Plaintiff began smoking marijuana in her apartment. The landlord filed for eviction due to her smoking. Plaintiff requested reasonable accommodations under the Fair Housing Act. The complex is  project-based, Section 8, federally assisted and the lease states that Defendant “may terminate the agreement for various reasons, including: drug-related criminal activity engaged in on or near the premises by any Resident, household member, or guest, or any such activity engaged in on the premises by any other person under the Resident’s control; “if the landlord determines that the Resident, any member of the Resident’s household, a guest or another person under the Resident’s control has engaged in the criminal activity, regardless of whether the Resident, any member of the Resident’s household, a guest or another person under the Resident’s control has been arrested or convicted for such activity.” Forest City Residential Management v. Lashawn Beasley and Eugene Kenyon, Case No. 13-14547 (E.D. Mich. 2014)

Jun 25, 2015

The question of whether "disparate impact" is a legal
and valid theory of discrimination under the Fair
housing Act is finally answered by our highest Court:

The Supreme Court in, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF
AL., affirmed that the Fair Housing Act of 1968 as Amended
in 1988, does allow not only claims for intentional
discrimination but also for claims that cover practices that
have a discriminatory effect even if not motivated by an
intent to discriminate.

Feb 17, 2015


The Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York has repeatedly sued private landlords and, in its most high-profile case, sued Westchester County, NY, for violating federal racial equality laws. Of the millions of dollars awarded to the ADC, it appears that ADC has not distributed any of the proceeds to develop affordable housing in the past five years.
“It’s frightening to think that there are self-deputized social-equity arbiters who are running around bringing costly racial quota lawsuits against communities that taxpayers have to fund,” said Mike Stenhouse, founder of the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. “The end result is that they can grab millions in taxpayer dollars in a judgment and keep it to themselves rather than spending it on the cause that they claim they are promoting.”

Dec 2, 2014

The District Court for the District of Columbia has Ruled on HUD’s Disparate Impact Regulation

The HUD regulation dealing with the theory of discrimination under “disparate impact” was reviewed and ruled on by Judge Richard J. Leon, for the District of Columbia. He ruled that the administration cannot rely on "disparate impact" to judge discrimination. This is another attack on the theory and civil rights groups that use the theory to sue parties when there is no overt intentional discrimination.
Judge Leon went on to criticize the administration , Judge Leon said the administration's bid to establish disparate impact as a legitimate measure of discrimination showed "hutzpah (bordering on desperation)." "This is yet another example of an administrative agency trying desperately to write into law that which Congress never intended to sanction," Judge Leon wrote in a scorching opinion that described Obama administration attorneys' arguments as "nothing less than an artful misinterpretation" of the law.
HUD’s position in passing the regulation is that Congress authorized disparate impact analysis in the Fair Housing Act.

Aug 25, 2014

HUD charges Kent State University with housing discrimination over denial of a student's right to keep a therapy dog in university housing

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) charged Kent State University (KSU) and four employees with violating the Fair Housing Act after they denied a student's request to keep a therapy dog in a university apartment for emotional support.
The student suffers from "panic disorder and anxiety" and needs the support animal to function in school.
In a press release, the HUD Assistant Secretary said that "Many people with disabilities rely on therapy animals to enhance their quality of life". "The Fair Housing Act protects their right to a service animal and HUD is committed to taking action whenever the nation's fair housing laws are violated," Velazquez said.
In contrast, the university released the following statement Tuesday afternoon: "Kent State University is aware of the charges stemming from claims made several years ago.  Helping our students succeed remains a top priority, and we look forward to discussing the facts of this case at the appropriate time."
A letter from the psychologist, quoted by HUD, stated that the student had benefited greatly in the past from having a pet, and requested that the university "take into consideration her [the student's] mental health disorder when considering her request."

The student seeks $16,000 in civil damages from the university and each person named in the charges. The agency said that the charge will be refer to a federal administrative law judge for hearing or if any of the parties choose to have the case heard in federal district court, the case will be heard be a federal judge.

Apr 4, 2014

Louisiana Lawmakers reject Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification bill:

Lawmakers rejected a bill that would have prohibited housing discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The House Commerce Committee voted 13-5 today against the measure, which was the first in a package of gay rights bills proposed for consideration this session. The proposed bill would have amended the Louisiana Equal Housing Opportunity Act 
by adding sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and marital status as Protected classes:

Feb 7, 2014

Race and Familial status case filed in Southern Illinois by the DOJ:

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the owners and management of a large mobile home park in Effingham, Illinois for alleged violations of the Fair Housing Act for discriminating against African-Americans and families with children.
The lawsuit, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. The complaint alleges that some of the employees with management engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the FHA by imposing requirements on African-Americans interested in living at mobile home park that they did not impose on white prospective tenants. The suit also alleges that management refused to register an African-American boyfriend of a white resident.
Also, the lawsuit alleges that the defendants refused to permit families with children to live in one of the four rows at the mobile home park. “The lawsuit arose after the residents who were subjected to the discriminatory conduct contacted HOPE Fair Housing Center, an organization in Illinois that advocates for equal opportunity in housing, who in turn contacted the Justice Department.  Some of the evidence leading to the filing of today’s lawsuit came from statements made by Four Seasons officials to testers, individuals who pose as renters to gather information about possible discriminatory practices.  The testing evidence in this case was developed by the department’s Fair Housing Testing Program.”