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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 Wins Injunction Requiring Trump Administration to Provide Housing Choice to Low-Income Families
On Saturday, December 23, 2017, a federal judge ordered the Trump Administration immediately to reinstate an Obama Administration regulation providing thousands of low-income families who use Housing Choice Vouchers the opportunity to move from impoverished, racially segregated neighborhoods to areas that provide better schools, better jobs, and greater access to community amenities. To read more and the Opinion click here.

Relman, Dane & Colfax Sues Virginia Prison on Behalf of Blind Prisoner
On November 21, 2017, Relman, Dane & Colfax filed a federal lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Corrections ("VDOC") for its alleged discrimination against Douglas Christy, a blind man who is currently incarcerated at the Deerfield Correctional Center in Capron, Virginia. Although Deerfield is supposed to be a specialized facility for prisoners with disabilities or specialized medical needs, the lawsuit alleges that VDOC has repeatedly failed to ensure that the programs and services at Deerfield are accessible to inmates with visual impairments, like Mr. Christy. The Complaint alleges that VDOC's failures to provide accessible services and to accommodate Mr. Christy violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. To read more and review the Complaint click here.

Relman, Dane & Colfax Challenges Trump Administration Roll Back of Housing Choice Voucher Rule
On October 23, 2017, Relman Dane & Colfax filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of two Housing Choice Voucher holders and a civil rights group, alleging that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) violated its civil rights obligations by unlawfully suspending a program that was intended to give low-income households the chance to live in high-opportunity areas. That action, the plaintiffs allege, relegates Voucher holders to lower-rent neighborhoods characterized by poverty and racial and ethnic segregation. They seek a court order requiring HUD to implement the program on schedule. To read more and review the Complaint click here.

Settlement of HUD Fair Housing Complaint Concerning Maryland's Administration of Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program
Relman, Dane & Colfax is pleased to announce the settlement of a HUD administrative complaint that alleged that the State of Maryland operated its Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program in a manner that violated civil rights laws. The complaint--filed in 2011 on behalf of the Baltimore Regional Housing Campaign--alleged that State policies permitted local officials to block affordable housing from being built in majority white, high opportunity communities. As a consequence, the Campaign alleged, developers in the region had few opportunities to build other than in the poorest and most segregated neighborhoods in the City of Baltimore. To read more and review the agreement click here.

Relman, Dane & Colfax Files Complaint Against Insurance Companies for Discrimination Against Housing Choice Voucher Participants in New Orleans
On September 14, 2017, Relman, Dane & Colfax filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, alleging that three insurance companies discriminate on the basis of race, sex and familial status by denying liability insurance (or charging higher premiums) to landlords who accept tenants with federal rental subsidy vouchers. To read more and review the complaint click here.

Relman, Dane & Colfax Sues Landlord for Practice of Demanding Sexual Favors from Low-Income Tenants
On August 8, 2017, Relman, Dane & Colfax filed a federal housing discrimination lawsuit against Oswego, New York landlord Douglas Waterbury, alleging that Waterbury demanded sexual favors from female tenants in exchange for lower rents and other benefits of tenancy. The plaintiffs in the case, six women and a northern New York local fair housing organization, describe Waterbury’s long-standing and pervasive pattern and practice of quid pro quo sex discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act and the New York State Human Rights Law’s prohibitions against sex discrimination. To read more click here.

Federal Court Complaint Alleges Uber Services in District of Columbia are Inaccessible to Wheelchair Users
Relman, Dane & Colfax and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee filed suit in federal court in the District of Columbia on June 28, 2017, on behalf of the Equal Rights Center (“ERC”), alleging that Uber Technologies, Inc. and two of its affiliates (collectively, “Uber”) have adopted and maintained policies that either exclude wheelchair users entirely from Uber services, or relegate them to inferior services with excessive wait times and much higher fares. As a result, wheelchair users are deprived of the substantial benefits that Uber provides to all of its other customers, thereby making it harder for them to travel to work, school, medical appointments and community events. To read more and review the complaint click here.

Federal Court Class Action Challenges Predatory “Rent-to-Own” Housing Scheme Targeted At Minority Communities in Indianapolis
On May 30, 2017, Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC filed a class action housing discrimination lawsuit on behalf of four individuals and the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana against Rainbow Realty Group, Inc., Empire Holding Corporation, and James R. Hotka. The complaint alleges that the Defendants use the promise of homeownership to lure people into toxic “rent-to-own” contracts for rundown houses, reviving predatory land contract practices that denied fair homeownership opportunities to residents of minority neighborhoods during much of the twentieth century. The lawsuit asserts claims under the federal Fair Housing, Equal Credit Opportunity, and Truth in Lending Acts, as well as state law. To read more and review the complaint click here.

Relman, Dane & Colfax Wins Landmark Seventh Circuit Decision For Wisconsin Transgender Student
In a groundbreaking decision, a three-judge Seventh Circuit panel unanimously affirmed a preliminary injunction that required the Kenosha Unified School District in Wisconsin to permit Ash Whitaker, a 17-year-old transgender boy, to use the boys' restrooms at his high school. The Seventh Circuit found that the school district's refusal to let Ash use the appropriate bathroom violates both Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The historic order is the first federal appellate decision to find that federal law requires public schools to permit a transgender student to use the bathroom corresponding to the student's gender identity without reference to the Obama Administration's guidance on the subject, which the Trump Administration withdrew earlier this year. To read more and review the appellate opinion click here.

Relman, Dane & Colfax Settles Race Discrimination Class Action Against the Secret Service for $24 Million and Reform of Promotions System
On January 17, 2017, Relman, Dane & Colfax reached a historic settlement in its oldest case – a class action on behalf of more than 100 Special Agents of the United States Secret Service. Filed in 2000, the case alleged that African American Secret Service Agents had been subjected to a racially discriminatory promotion system that denied them a fair opportunity for promotion. For 16 years and through three administrations, Relman, Dane & Colfax, along with Hogan Lovells, fought in both trial and appellate courts to win relief for members of the class. In addition to substantial monetary relief, the settlement requires the Secret Service to make significant changes to its promotion system to ensure greater transparency and accountability in decision making. To read more and review the Settlement click here.