Featured Work

  • In a significant victory in the fight for fair lending, we secured a major jury verdict against New York-based Emigrant Savings Bank and Emigrant Mortgage Company for discriminatory mortgage lending. The June 2016 liability verdict was both the first case in which a jury held a bank accountable for lending practices that contributed to the country’s 2008 financial collapse, and the first reverse redlining case ever to be tried in federal court.

  • In a historic victory for Ashton Whitaker, a transgender student in Wisconsin, the firm secured a landmark Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision in 2017 recognizing that Title IX and the Fourteenth Amendment protect transgender students from discrimination at school. The firm obtained an $800,000 settlement in January 2018.

  • In October 2021, Relman Colfax obtained a precedent-setting $5.2 million jury verdict in a case involving the Town of Cromwell’s discrimination against a group home for men with mental health disabilities.  Gilead Community Services, a non-profit serving people with mental health disabilities in Connecticut since 1968, sought to open a six-person home in Cromwell, Connecticut. Responding to the discriminatory opposition of neighbors, Cromwell waged a campaign that resulted in the closure of the home in August 2015.

  • In 2017, Relman Colfax reached a historic settlement in its longest-running case, a class action on behalf of more than 100 Special Agents of the United States Secret Service subjected to a racially discriminatory promotion system.

  • This systemic housing discrimination case against the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) challenges Fannie Mae’s discriminatory maintenance of its “real estate owned” (REO) properties around the country.

  • In 2016, Relman Colfax settled the largest affordable housing accessibility case in the nation’s history, securing an important victory for people with disabilities in Los Angeles and adding at least 4,000 affordable and highly accessible housing units in the city. The firm separately settled with the City's Community Redevelopment Agency in 2017.

  • In this Fair Housing Act case challenging an Ohio landlord's discrimination against tenants based on race and familial status, Relman Colfax obtained a consent order in 2014 requiring that the landlord hire a professional management company to operate his apartment complexes and an $850,000 settlement.

  • In 2013, in the first reverse redlining case filed against a for-profit school in the country for engaging in deceptive practices to encourage low-income African-American students to take out large federal student loans for an education that the school knew was inadequate, the firm obtained a $5 million settlement for a class of over 4,000 members. 

  • In this disability rights case brought under the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, Relman Colfax successfully challenged an Ohio city’s refusal to accommodate a resident’s physical disability by providing her access to an alleyway behind her home.

  • In 2008, Relman Colfax obtained a $10.8 million jury verdict for 67 plaintiffs challenging the refusal to provide water services to a predominately African-American community by the City of Zanesville and Muskingum County, Ohio.

Current Cases

  • On behalf of Texas Housers—a nonprofit advocacy organization that models solutions to the state’s critical housing and community development problems—the firm is advocating with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) to require Millennia Management Company LLC and Millennia Housing Management LTD., (“Millennia”) to maintain rental units in developments across the country “in decent, safe and sanitary condition.” Millennia is one of the largest owners and managers of project-based housing in the country, and a substantial number of its tenants are households of color.

  • R. and D. R., a young couple living near Philadelphia, applied for a home renovation loan from the Police and Fire Federal Credit Union (“PFFCU”) in February 2021, when S.R. was on maternity leave after the birth of their second child. Throughout that leave, she was receiving her full salary pursuant to the Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) and had a firm date to return to work.

  • In the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017, Congress appropriated funds under the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to mitigate against future natural disasters.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocated more than $4 billion to Texas, and the governor designated the General Land Office (“GLO”) to administer those funds. 

  • 01.20.2022

    On August 5, 2020 Relman Colfax filed a Fair Housing Act administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), alleging that the owners and operators of the RiverWoods Senior Living Community in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, discriminated on the basis of disability against Ruth Gural, who has progressive memory loss and needs some help with activities of daily living.   After years of living peacefully in her own apartment, RiverWoods threatened to evict her because her adult son insisted on staying with her—beginning in March 2020—to provide her care and support during the COVID pandemic, when RiverWoods sought to bar all family, friends and private caregivers from even visiting residents. 

  • 01.07.2022

    On January 7, 2021, Relman Colfax and co-counsel the National Student Legal Defense Network filed a class action lawsuit in federal court against Walden University. Walden University is a for-profit university that solely offers online degree programs, including 20 different doctoral programs. This lawsuit, brought under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (“ECOA”), alleges that Walden University engaged in “reverse redlining” by intentionally targeting Black and female students for what appears to be a cost- and time-effective online degree program, but ultimately amounts to an expensive predatory scheme.

  • On October 6, 2021, Relman Colfax filed a lawsuit in Indiana federal court alleging that Old National Bank engaged in lending discrimination in Indianapolis in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

  • On September 21, 2021, Relman Colfax filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that the Town of Brookline, New Hampshire, its Planning Board, and its Selectboard discriminated on the basis of familial status, race and national origin—in violation of the Fair Housing Act—when they resisted the development of an 80-unit affordable “workforce housing” development proposed by Brookline Opportunities, LLC. The Town is 93% White, with very small African-American and Latino populations, has a high per household median income, and very few rental units

  • Following an extensive investigation of 14 newly-constructed apartment properties in northern and eastern Indiana—including site visits and inspections—the Fair housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI) identified multiple violations of the Fair Housing Act’s accessibility requirements.  FHCCI approached the developers and owners of the properties with its findings, alleging that they had constructed the apartment buildings with inaccessible routes to ground floor units, to the accessible parking and other amenities, failed to   provide accessible hardware for doors and built bathrooms that lacked accessible sinks and adequate turning spaces.

  • Following a two-year investigation, NFHA alleged that the architects, developers and owners of 14 apartment communities in New Mexico had failed to  design and construct those communities according to the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act.  The principal defendants are GSL Properties, Inc., DBG Properties, LLC and DekkerPerichSabatini, an architectural firm.

  • This lawsuit, brought under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3729 et seq., alleges that the J.L. Gray Company, and its related entities, Logan Estates 2017, LLLP, Parkside Manor Limited Partnership, and JLG Properties LLC, submitted false statements, certifications and claims for payment with respect to whether up to 70 apartment complexes were built and operated in compliance with the federal architectural accessibility requirements in the Fair Housing Act, Section 504, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

  • The Ability Center of Greater Toledo, et al, v. Moline Builders, Inc. et al.
    05.21.2021

    This lawsuit challenges the design and construction of a senior living development in Toledo, Ohio, that is inaccessible to people with disabilities in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

  • Clover Group Inc. and its affiliates, which own and manage properties in six states, refuse to provide reserved parking spaces and require extra payments for reasonable accommodations needed by seniors with disabilities.

  • 03.30.2021

    This lawsuit, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, and state common law, alleges the excessive use of force and suppression of free speech by the District of Columbia in its mass arrest of peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protesters on Swann Street on June 1, 2020.

  • 03.09.2021

    This lawsuit alleges that a large San Antonio, Texas housing development and management company discriminates against low-income tenants with disabilities who need reasonable modifications to use and enjoy their apartments.

  • This lawsuit, brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the First and Fourth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, challenges the excessive use of force and suppression of free speech by the City of Fredericksburg (“City”) and County of Stafford (“County”) government and law enforcement officials in response to peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protests in summer 2020.

  • On January 19, 2021, Relman Colfax and its co-counsel filed a housing discrimination lawsuit against the Town of Fairfield (Connecticut) on behalf of subsidiaries of Newport Healthcare seeking to open two group homes for young adults experiencing anxiety, depression, trauma and related mental health disabilities.  The amended complaint alleges that Fairfield officials violated the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Connecticut Fair Housing Act by withholding necessary approvals for more than two years and preventing the opening of the homes.

  • 01.14.2021
  • 10.22.2020
  • 07.21.2020

    Led by Megan Cacace, Relman Colfax conducted a two-year Civil Rights Audit of Facebook along with civil rights and civil liberties leader Laura Murphy.  Megan and the Relman Colfax team provided analysis on the civil rights implications of the company’s policies and practices, and recommendations for improvement, and documented their findings in three public reports.

  • 05.13.2020

    This lawsuit on behalf of a Colorado disability rights organization and four individual members alleges that a major plasma donation center excludes people with a variety of disabilities from its services.

  • This public accommodations lawsuit alleges that Varsity Tavern, one of the largest bars in Fort Worth, Texas, discriminates based on race in who it allows to enter the bar.

  • This lawsuit against the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) and its property manager, brought by two public housing residents under the Fair Housing Act and Fourteenth Amendment, alleges that the property manager sexually harassed women living in DCHA properties for years.

  • This lawsuit, brought on behalf of Amber Reineck House, its founder and President, Courtney Atsalakis, and the Fair Housing Center of Southeast & Mid Michigan, alleges that the City of Howell and its employees discriminated against people with disabilities by engaging in a concerted effort to prevent Amber Reineck House from opening a sober living home for women.

  • This Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleges that a powerful neighborhood association discriminated against a Chicago family attempting to renovate a single family home to make it accessible for their daughter.

  • Relman Colfax represents UMH Properties, a developer seeking to build a community of affordable manufactured homes in the Village of Coxsackie, New York, in this Fair Housing Act lawsuit challenging the Village's obstruction of the development.

  • In this Fair Housing Act lawsuit, a married same-sex couple challenges a Missouri senior living community's refusal to let them reside there as unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex.

  • This lawsuit, brought on behalf of a blind camping enthusiast, alleges that a Fortune 500 company falsely promised the California Department of Parks and Recreation that it would deliver a public-facing reservations website that was accessible to blind users. 

  • In this lawsuit, Access Living, an independent living center, challenges the City of Chicago’s failure to provide accessible, affordable housing to people with disabilities under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Fair Housing Act.

  • This case, brought by Edward Kovari against Prisoner Transportation Services and two of its subsidiaries, alleged that Mr. Kovari was subjected to extreme and inhumane conditions over 18 days while he was transported from Virginia to Texas in an overcrowded prison transport van. The case settled after the district court found that Mr. Kovari had presented substantial evidence to support a finding that Defendants’ conduct violated the Constitution and that these Constitutional violations were caused by Defendants’ policies and practices.

  • This lawsuit, brought by the NAACP, challenges the City of Myrtle Beach’s imposition of severe traffic restrictions during Black Bike Week, the only weekend of the year where tourists are predominantly African American, in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and federal civil rights laws.

  • Relman Colfax filed suit against the City of Peoria, alleging that the City intentionally targeted enforcement of its “chronic nuisance ordinance” in predominantly African-American neighborhoods and against buildings with predominantly African-American tenants, in violation of the Fair Housing Act. On August 31, 2020, HOPE settled its claims. Pursuant to the settlement, the City amended the ordinance and police department policies to ensure nondiscriminatory enforcement of the Ordinance and to protect tenant rights.

  • This lawsuit brought by Equal Rights Center alleges that Uber has failed to make its ride-sharing service accessible to wheelchair users in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and D.C. Human Rights Act. 

  • Relman Colfax represents plaintiffs in this class action lawsuit against an Indianapolis realty company for operating a predatory and discriminatory rent-to-own scheme in the Indianapolis area. 

  • This Fair Housing Act lawsuit against the City of LaGrange, Georgia challenged the City's utility service policies—including denying utility services to individuals with unpaid court debt and requiring a Social Security number to obtain utilities—for having an unlawful disparate impact on African Americans and Latinos.

  • This case challenges the alleged unlawful detainment of an on-duty Black Secret Service agent by U.S. Park Police officers in violation of the agent's rights under the Fourth Amendment and Section 1985.

  • This case against McIntosh County and the State of Georgia alleges that the denial of basic municipal services to one of the last Gullah-Geechee communities on Sapelo Island, Georgia violates plaintiffs' constitutional rights.

  • Relman Colfax represents a group of high school and college students seeking to defend UNC-Chapel Hill's consideration of race in its admissions process.

  • This Fair Housing Act case on behalf of an African-American tenant who experienced severe racial harassment by a neighbor challenges a landlord's failure to respond to neighbor-on-neighbor harassment.

Notable Victories

  • This lawsuit, brought under the Fair Housing Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504, and state law, challenged the Dallas Housing Authority’s cancellation of project-based housing subsidies that would have permitted adults with disabilities to live in integrated homes in the community.

  • This class action lawsuit successfully challenged Wisconsin Medicaid's categorical exclusion on gender-confirming treatments for transgender beneficiaries with gender dysphoria.

  • The firm represented a fair housing organization in developing initiatives with a lender that are designed to ensure that individuals who are on, or plan to be on, maternity, paternity or adoptive leave receive fair and equal access to mortgage loans.

  • In this Fair Housing Act lawsuit against a Virginia landlord, which challenged a racially discriminatory policy of rejecting all applicants with criminal backgrounds, the defendant agreed to adopt a new policy to ensure equal access to its properties.

  • This Fair Housing Act lawsuit brought by a fair housing organization and six women challenged a landlord's alleged pattern and practice of sexual harassment of female tenants and prospective tenants resulted in a damages settlement and consent decree containing innovative injunctive relief.

  • This Fair Housing Act lawsuit, brought by a fair housing organization and two individuals, challenged the strict rental terms, rules, and conditions that a Texas property management company imposed on tenants with children.

  • This lawsuit, brought on behalf of an organization and two individuals against HUD challenging its delay of the Small Area Fair Market Rent pilot program, secured a decision allowing poor families in major markets around the country to immediately use rental subsidies to move to higher-opportunity areas.

  • This Fair Housing Act lawsuit, filed on behalf of the a fair housing center and landlord, alleged that three insurance companies discriminated 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.

  • Relman Colfax obtained the first federal court decision holding that a landlord can violate the Fair Housing Act by maintaining a policy of refusing to consider the reasonable accommodation requests of disabled tenants or prospective tenants who seek to alter their rent due dates to correspond with the receipt of their disability benefits, resulting in a settlement including a policy change and damages.

  • In this Fair Housing Act case, Relman Colfax obtained a $2.45 million settlement on behalf of an affordable housing developer challenging municipality’s unlawful actions to obstruct a proposed affordable housing development based on bias-motivated community opposition.

  • A federal appeals court held that a plasma donation center is a public accommodation that must comply with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  • This Fair Housing Act case challenged a Brooklyn apartment complex's refusal to rent units to formerly incarcerated individuals, under the complex's policy prohibiting anyone with a criminal record from living there, as racially discriminatory.

  • This design and construction disability rights lawsuit settled for $600,000 and defendants' agreement to retrofit the entirety of a large apartment complex.

  • In this groundbreaking lawsuit, Relman Colfax challenged Santander Bank's poor record of mortgage lending in minority neighborhoods in Providence, Rhode Island. 

  • This successful Fair Housing Act lawsuit against the D.C. Housing Authority for failure to provide sign language interpreters resulted in settlement requiring substantial changes to policies and practices to ensure sign language interpreters are provided.

  • Jury verdict of $1 million in favor of families evicted from housing complex in Pahokee Florida because landlord sought to remove all children from the complex.

  • In this successful appeal of a homeowners association refusal to permit reasonable modifications to dwelling, the Sixth Circuit established the analytical framework for evaluating reasonable modification claims under the Fair Housing Act.

  • In this employment discrimination case, Relman Colfax secured a in $687,000 verdict for an African-American bartender denied a position at a Washington, DC bar because of her race.

  • In this Fair Housing Act case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a real estate agent could be held liable for disability discrimination.

  • In this race discrimination case against a hotel, the court denied summary judgment and determined that a franchisor may be held liable under a theory of apparent agency in Section 1981 public accommodations cases.

  • Federal court holds fifth-largest private apartment developer in the country liable for a “continuing violation” of federal accessibility requirements. Settlement required retrofitting of 12,300 apartment units at 82 apartment complexes in 11 states, with a total settlement value of nearly $15 million.

  • Multiple challenges to attempts to prevent construction of affordable, multi-family housing within St. Bernard Parish, New Orleans. After three evidentiary hearings in less than one year, the Court found that the Parish acted with racially discriminatory intent and that its actions had a discriminatory effect on African Americans.  

  • After federal court granted summary judgment for the firm’s client, case settled, requiring County to spend nearly $52 million in County funds to develop at least 750 affordable housing units in high-opportunity neighborhoods.

  • Relman Colfax secured a trial victory on behalf of five officers of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department who experienced retaliation after complaining of race discrimination.

  • This First Amendment and race discrimination case challenged a county government’s dismissal of three doctors who were outspoken opponents of budget cuts that impacted a public hospital serving the predominantly African-American population on the south side of Chicago.

  • Relman Colfax secured a trial victory for an African-American couple whose landlord removed and burned their belongings when they were out of town.

  • A jury verdict in favor of developer prevented by City of Saratoga Springs from building affordable housing community because of discriminatory opposition to project by neighbors was upheld on appeal by the Second Circuit. 

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