This blog has referred to the Dirt Listserv* previously, and I point in that direction again today for those among us who may represent clients in the business of renting or selling housing. On July 12, Professor Dale Whitman published a post entitled “Fair Housing Act will be applied to prohibit LGBTQ discrimination.”
The post mentions a Supreme Court case and a Department of Housing and Urban Development Press Release.
The case** held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees against discrimination because they are gay or transgender. The plaintiff, Gerald Bostock, worked as a child-welfare advocate for Clayton County, Georgia and was fired for conduct “unbecoming” a county employee when he started playing in a gay softball league. (Two cases from other circuits were consolidated with this case. One involved a person who was fired from his job as a skydiving instructor within days of mentioning to his employer that he is gay. The other involved a funeral home employee who was fired after disclosing to her employer her transgender status and intent to live and work as a woman.)
The press release was issued by HUD and can be read here. HUD announced that it will administer and enforce the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The release said that a number of studies indicate same-sex couples and transgender persons experience demonstrably less favorable treatment than their counterparts when seeking housing. But HUD was previously constrained in its efforts to address this housing discrimination because of a legal uncertainty about whether this discrimination is within HUD’s reach. HUD has now reached a legal conclusion based partially on the Bostock case. HUD indicates that it is simply saying that discrimination the Supreme Court held to be illegal in the workplace is also illegal in the housing market.
Complaints may be filed by contacting HUD’s Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Office at (800) 669-9777 or hud.gov/fairhousing.
Clients involved in housing should be advised of this development.
* Real Estate Lawyers Listserv: Dirt@LISTSERV.UMKC.EDU
** Bostock v. Clayton County, 590 U.S. ___ (2020)