Partner Jim Glatthaar & Counsel Adam Rodriguez Quoted by The Verge on Facebook Housing Discrimination Case
Bleakley Platt Partner Jim Glatthaar and Counsel Adam Rodriguez were key sources for a recent article in The Verge that examines the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s claim that Facebook violated the Fair Housing Act by letting ad buyers use Facebook algorithms to target audiences that included or excluded certain races, religions, or genders.
According to Mr. Glatthaar, the case is unusual for a variety of reasons. “Something like this is a national practice, whereas most housing discrimination is fairly local,” he says. “The federal government is one of the few entities that can handle something of this scope.”
According to Mr. Rodriguez, HUD doesn’t have to establish that these targeting algorithms are purposefully designed to avoid showing ads to certain protected classes. It just has to demonstrate that the system effectively makes housing less accessible to these people — a concept known as disparate impact. “If there is an algorithm that just happens to discriminate against racial minorities or gender minorities or whatever, I think it would still be problematic,” says Rodriguez. He compares the move to a zoning restriction whose text and intent is race-neutral but that directly results in fewer black residents, which would likely still be considered discriminatory.
Mr. Glatthaar is a member of the Litigation, Co-Operative and Condominium, Construction and Real Estate Practice Groups at Bleakley Platt. He has represented landlords, tenants, developers, non-profit institutions, sellers, purchasers, realtors, cooperatives and condominiums in building, zoning, housing and disability-based discrimination claims, landlord-tenant and construction defect claims both in courts and before state and federal administrative agencies. He has also represented property owners and purchasers in complex real estate and financing transactions.
At Bleakley Platt, Mr. Rodriguez focuses his practice in the areas of litigation, intellectual property and real estate. Previously, he was the Director of Real Estate for Westchester County, where he negotiated commercial real estate transactions valued at over $100 million. Prior to his appointment as Director of Real Estate, Mr. Rodriguez defended the County of Westchester in one of the highest-profile HUD enforcement actions in United States history. He has also served as a law clerk to two federal judges, and worked as an intellectual property litigator at a large law firm in New York City.