Fair Housing Act Covers Tenant-on-Tenant Racial Harassment, 2d Circuit Holds

In Francis v. Kings Park Manor, Inc., No. 15-1823-cv, 2019 WL 6646495 (2d Cir. Dec. 6, 2019), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit resurrected plaintiff’s claims of race discrimination (under, inter alia, the Fair Housing Act), arising from plaintiff’s being subjected, by his next-door neighbor, to “a brazen and relentless campaign of racial harassment, abuse, and threats.”

The court wrote:

Just over fifty years ago, spurred by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Congress enacted Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, commonly referred to as the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (“FHA” or “Act”), 42 U.S.C. § 3601 et seq., a landmark piece of civil rights legislation that accompanied the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The main question before us is whether a landlord may be liable under the FHA for intentionally discriminating against a tenant based on the tenant’s race. In this case, the landlord allegedly refused to take any action to address what it knew to be a racially hostile housing environment created by one tenant targeting another, even though the landlord had acted against other tenants to redress prior, non-race related issues. In holding that a landlord may be liable in those limited circumstances, we adhere to the FHA’s broad language and remedial scope.

The court thus vacated the lower court’s judgment dismissing plaintiff’s claims under the FHA and analogous New York State law, as well as his claims under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981 and 1982.

Share This: