Our friends at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) publish a myriad of reports concerning the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the efforts of the Department to enforce the law. One of the reports I like to review is a compilation of the number of discrimination complaints filed each year as well as the percentage of cases filed for each of the seven protected classes under federal law. Although the report is a year or so behind, here is what HUD discloses concerning the number of and percentage of fair housing cases filed with the Department and its partner agencies.

First, the total number of fair housing complaints filed in fiscal year 2017 was 8,186 (6,878 with HUD and 1,308 with HUD partners). My point here is that if a discrimination complaint was filed against your company, well, you are not alone. Does not make you feel any better, but thousands of complaints get filed each year. Which means lots of companies need to speak with a lawyer like me. Sorry about that.

With respect to percentages:

Protected Class                Number of Complaints                  Percentage of Complaints

Disability                             4,865                                                  59.4%

Race                                    2,132                                                   26%

Familial Status                     871                                                    10.6%

Retaliation                           834                                                    10.2%

National Origin                   826                                                    10.1%

Sex                                       800                                                     9.8%

Religion                               232                                                     2.8%

Color                                   192                                                     2.3%

Now, sharp followers of the FHA will note that retaliation is not one of the seven protected classes in the law. It is, however, covered under Section 818 of the FHA and is a growing percentage of cases I defend each year.

These figures confirm a rather dramatic trend for discrimination complaints: for the last five reported fiscal years, the number of disability discrimination complaints continues a rapid increase. The trend runs from: 52.6%, to 53.7%, to 55%, to 58.5%, and then a jump to 59.4%. I suspect next year disability complaints will cross the 60% threshold. And a big portion of these numbers are emotional support animal cases. Some of which may be legitimate. Many of which use medical verifications that were purchased over the internet with a credit card.

I continue to hear statements of sympathy from various fair housing investigators when I get yet another emotional support animal complaint. Like me, they are waiting for HUD to help with some new guidance. In the interim, I will keep knocking them off – going one at a time.

Just A Thought.