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Bates White conducts analysis to assess potential disparate impact for Equal Rights Center

April 2024

Through its pro bono program, Bates White completed an analysis for the Equal Rights Center (ERC) in its suit against Adams Investment Group, LLC and Adams Cathedral, LLC. In Equal Rights Center v. Adams Investment Group, LLC et al., the ERC alleged that Adams Investment Group engaged in unlawful income and race discrimination by refusing to accept Housing Choice Vouchers at one of its properties in Washington, DC. ERC is a civil rights organization that seeks to eliminate unlawful and unfair housing discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations in the Washington, DC, area.

The ERC retained Julian Chan to assess the potential disparate impact on race resulting from that policy of refusing to accept housing vouchers as a source of payment for rent. Dr. Chan and the Bates White team used public data to show that the alleged practice disproportionately affected Black renter households relative to White renter households in the District.

The parties ultimately came to a settlement. Besides the monetary damages, there were two main stipulations. First, the defendants agreed to conduct fair housing training for all staff formally or informally involved in any rental processes in Washington, DC. That training will be provided to compliance staff and those who may answer rental or leasing questions in its call centers. Second, the defendants agreed to have the ERC conduct 20 compliance tests over the term of its agreement for any DC properties with which defendants are involved.

Dr. Chan’s analysis provided leverage to the ERC in its negotiation with the defendant. Kate Scott, ERC’s Executive Director, commented on the firm’s report findings, saying, “Having access to this sort of data analysis, pro bono, emboldens us to further advance our mission. The case for which Bates White provided this data ultimately settled after a judge denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss.” Since then, ERC has been able to use the same theory to bring several more cases in the District against housing providers engaging in source-of-income discrimination.

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