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The Firm

Relman, Dane & Colfax is a civil rights law firm based in Washington, D.C., with additional offices in Ohio and New Mexico.  We litigate civil rights cases in the areas of housing, lending, employment, public accommodations, education, and police accountability.  Our national practice includes individual and class action lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs who have suffered discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, national origin, color, religion, sex, disability, age, familial status, source of income, and sexual orientation.

The firm also provides legal counsel to progressive companies that demonstrate a commitment to best practices in the way they conduct business.  Such counsel includes representation of financial institutions in reporting to their regulators on fair lending and fair servicing issues.   We conduct investigations and provide counseling regarding consumer protection, privacy, lending, employment, whistleblower, and federal regulatory matters.  Our practice also includes analysis and strategy regarding public policy issues and proposed legislation affecting civil rights.

In the News

Relman, Dane & Colfax Files Two Amicus Briefs in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project
Relman, Dane & Colfax has filed two briefs in the closely watched case, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, Case No. 13-1371. The Supreme Court is expected in that case to decide whether the Fair Housing Act allows for disparate impact liability.

On behalf of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), the Center for Community Self-Help, and Hope Enterprise Corporation, the Firm argued that the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact doctrine has played a vital role in making housing and related services available to all, while at the same time making the industries it regulates, such as the banking and property insurance industries, better at their jobs. For more than forty years, the federal courts have consistently construed the Act to bar not only intentional discrimination based on race or other protected classification, but also practices that disproportionately harm certain groups (such as African Americans) and do so without any legitimate business necessity. This ban on unnecessary disparate impact, the firm explained in NFHA’s brief, has encouraged the lending industry – which once denied loans based on subjective assessments of potential borrowers or requirements that, while facially race-neutral, were based on little more than stereotypes – to change its culture dramatically. The industry now systematically scrutinizes its procedures and requirements to ensure that they more precisely measure credit-worthiness and do not have unnecessary discriminatory impact. As a result, loans now are more widely available to populations historically denied them. At the same time, the lending industry has been able to identify a larger number of credit-worthy borrowers and thus has increased its profits. To read NFHA’s brief in its entirety, click here.

On behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and its Milwaukee Branch, the Firm addressed and rebutted specific arguments submitted to the Court by three property insurance trade organizations (the American Insurance Association, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies, and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America). Specifically, the Firm argued on behalf of the NAACP that legitimate insurance practices are not threatened by disparate impact analysis. Rather, only those insurance practices that are not necessary to accomplish legitimate business needs are prohibited by a disparate impact basis for liability. The brief asserts that the insurance industry has a long history of unnecessarily discriminatory practices, and such practices continue today, giving disparate impact analysis continued importance in accomplishing the goals of Congress. To read the NAACP’s brief in its entirety, click here.

Relman, Dane & Colfax and Department of Justice Settle Housing Discrimination Claims for $850,000
Plaintiffs in a major housing discrimination case against an Akron-Canton, Ohio area landlord have settled their claims for $850,000 and extensive injunctive relief. The Plaintiffs had filed the case under the federal and Ohio fair housing laws alleging that John Ruth, who owns and operates more than one hundred apartments in the Northeast, Ohio area, regularly discriminated against both African Americans and families with children. To read more and review the Proposed Consent Order click here.

Court of Appeals Upholds Class Certification in Race Discrimination Case Against Secret Service
On August 1, 2014, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held unanimously that race discrimination claims against the U.S. Secret Service may proceed as a class action. Judge Douglas Ginsburg, writing for the appeals court, rejected various attempts by the Secret Service to challenge the District Court’s 2013 opinion granting class certification. Click here to read more.

Relman, Dane & Colfax Wins First Appellate Decision Holding that Intent not Required to Prove FHA Reasonable Accommodation and Reasonable Modification Claims
In the first appellate decision squarely addressing the issue, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has held that evidence of intent or pretext is not required to establish reasonable accommodation or reasonable modification claims under the Fair Housing Act. To read more about the case and the Opinion and Judgment click here.

Advocacy Groups Settle Civil Rights Complaint Against State of New Jersey Involving Superstorm Sandy
Relman, Dane & Colfax is pleased to announce the resolution of an administrative complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which alleged that the State of New Jersey violated civil rights laws in the administration of its Superstorm Sandy recovery program. The Firm represented Latino Action Network, Fair Share Housing Center (FHSC) and NJ NAACP, and co-counseled the matter with FSHC. To read more about the case and the Settlement click here.