Fair Hous. Council v. Roommate.com, LLC

666 F.3d 1216 (9th Cir. 2012)

 

RULE:

An organization has direct standing to sue when it shows a drain on its resources from both a diversion of its resources and frustration of its mission. However, standing must be established independent of the lawsuit filed by the plaintiff. An organization cannot manufacture an injury by incurring litigation costs or simply choosing to spend money fixing a problem that otherwise would not affect the organization at all. An organization cannot, of course, manufacture the injury necessary to maintain a suit from its expenditure of resources on that very suit.

FACTS:

Users of the operator's website were required to create a profile by answering questions about their sex, sexual orientation, and whether children would be living with them, and they were asked to list their preferences for roommate characteristics, including sex, sexual orientation, and familial status. The district court held that the operator violated the FHA and the FEHA by prompting discriminatory preferences from users and matching users based on that information.

ISSUE:

Is the selection of roommates protected by Fair Housing Act’s provision on anti-discrimination?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

There is a protection of possible discrimination on basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin by the FHA. However, it does not simply apply or allow the selection of roommates. A roommate relationship is considered an intimate one that the government cannot interfere between them. The court also found that FHA is inapplicable to shared living units. The district court's judgment was vacated and remanded for entry of judgment for the operator.

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