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Relman Colfax Sues HUD For Gutting Disparate Impact Under the Fair Housing Act

Relman Colfax has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development and its Secretary, Ben Carson, challenging HUD’s new rule that eviscerates the disparate-impact standard under the Fair Housing Act. The Firm represents the National Fair Housing Alliance, Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California, and BLDS, LTD.

For decades, the Fair Housing Act’s disparate-impact doctrine has been a vital tool for challenging practices that have a discriminatory effect on housing, regardless of whether they are motivated by discriminatory intent. Disparate-impact claims permit challenges to policies and practices that have a discriminatory effect based on race or other protected class. Once such an effect is shown, disparate-impact claims require a defendant to use a less discriminatory alternative that could serve its legitimate purposes, without regard to whether the defendant intentionally discriminated.

Now, however, HUD has issued a rule that makes disparate-impact claims nearly impossible to bring, by adding novel pleading and proof requirements and brand-new defenses that effectively shield broad swaths of industry from any realistic prospect of disparate-impact liability. The result is to embolden public and private entities alike to maintain policies and practices with unnecessary discriminatory effect and institute new ones, just when public attention has turned to the importance of eliminating systemic discrimination in housing and elsewhere.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that HUD’s rule violates the Administrative Procedure Act and asks that it be vacated.

The Relman Colfax case team includes John P. Relman, Glenn Schlactus, Stephen F. Hayes, Sasha Samberg-Champion, Sara Pratt, and Zach Best, with paralegal assistance from Brianna Terrell, Amalia Perez, and Isabel Tessier. Relman Colfax is co-counseling with the NAACP Legal Defense and Public Citizen.

For more information contact:
Relman Colfax PLLC
1225 19th Street, N.W., Suite 600
Washington DC, 20036
Phone: (202) 728-1888
Fax: (202) 728-0848

Posted  October 23, 2020

Call for IAOHRA Member Agencies to Sign on to a Statement in Support of Human Rights


The Columbia Law School's Human Rights Institute invites you to express support for human rights principles and accountability in the United States today, building on our longstanding partnership with IAOHRA. 


Across the United States, Governors, Mayors, State and Local Civil and Human Rights Agencies, and Tribal and Indigenous leaders are on the front lines of advancing human rights. 


At a time when government commitments to justice, equality, and dignity for all couldn’t be more important, this is an opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to human rights principles and values. Across the US, and the world, communities are responding to the impacts of COVID-19 and working to eliminate discrimination and inequality.  Human rights principles provide an important framework to shape law, policy, and practice that provide communities the support and resources they need to thrive. 


We invite you to voice support for human rights by signing on to a statement in support of human rights, which recognizes that all levels of government share responsibility to respect and fulfill human rights.  This support is timely as the United States’ human record is scheduled for review in November as part of a UN mechanism known as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).  

With your signature, we hope to secure broad geographic representation to make clear that there is wide support for human rights.  To join, please complete this form by September 30th. 

This initiative is spearheaded by the Human Rights Institute in collaboration with partners from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the US Human Rights Network, and the Woodhull Freedom Foundation. 


To learn more about the Human Rights Institute's work in human rights, we welcome you to visit the Institute’s website, and to view our resources for state and local governments.  


We will also be reaching out to mayors and governors in the coming weeks, if you have contacts that you think would be interested in joining, please share with JoAnn Kamuf Ward (  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Human Rights Institute at


Thank you for your time and consideration! 

Posted Sept. 14, 2020

IAOHRA Remembers Civil Rights Legends Rep. John Lewis and Rev. C.T. Vivian. Read more about these icons of Civil Rights. 


Posted  August  21, 2020


Redefining Policing with Our Community: A Collaborative Report From the Testimony of Los Angeles County Residents and Stakeholders

LA County Commission on Human Relations (LACCHR) released its comprehensive report on policing and human relations entitled “Redefining Policing with Our Community”. Five years in the making this report includes 34 recommendations, including establishing an independent prosecutor for police misconduct, ending qualified immunity for police officers, shifting resources to community-based and non-police alternatives for public safety calls, and greater availability and analysis of the RIPA (Racial Incident Profiling Act) data to ensure anti-Black and all other illegal biases are identified and removed from policing policies and practices. See Report and Press Release.

Posted  July 14, 2020

Pilots Expand Highly Successful Mediation Program and Modify Conciliation Process


WASHINGTON - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), today announced two six-month pilot programs that will expand opportunities for parties to voluntarily resolve charges through mediation and increase the effectiveness of the conciliation process.

“EEOC’s popular mediation program has been tremendously successful over its 20-year history and the ACT Mediation pilot creates more opportunities to resolve charges throughout an investigation,” said EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon.  “Similarly, the change being piloted in the conciliation process ensures internal accountability and emphasizes resolving charges before resorting to litigation.”

Mediation Pilot

Mediation is a voluntary, informal, and confidential way to resolve disputes with the help of a neutral mediator who is trained to help people discuss their differences.  The EEOC’s ACT (Access, Categories, Time) Mediation pilot, which began on July 6, 2020, expands the categories of charges eligible for mediation and, generally, allows for mediation throughout an investigation.  Currently, only certain categories of charges are referred to the mediation program at the beginning of the charge investigation process.  The pilot will also expand the use of technology to hold virtual mediations.

Through the EEOC’s mediation program, first implemented agency-wide in 1999, the agency has conducted more than 235,000 mediations, resolving over 170,000 charges and obtaining over $2.85 billion in benefits for aggrieved individuals - all within an average processing time of 100 days.  Moreover, over 96% of workers and employers who have participated in EEOC mediation reported, when surveyed, that they would return to the program again if they were a party to a future charge.

Conciliation Pilot

Conciliation is an informal and confidential process, required by Title VII, to attempt to voluntarily resolve findings of discrimination before litigation.  By requiring conciliation, Congress made cooperation and voluntary compliance central to the work of the agency, a point that was recognized by the Supreme Court in Mach Mining v. EEOC, 575 U.S. 480, 491 (2015).  The EEOC’s conciliation pilot, which began on May 29, 2020, makes a single change to the process to drive accountability and is also part of our broader effort to emphasize the importance of conciliation as a tool for remedying complaints of discrimination.

The six-month pilot program recommits EEOC to resolving charges through conciliation as these resolutions are one of the most effective means for bringing employers into compliance with the statutes the agency enforces.  The pilot builds on a renewed commitment for full communication between the EEOC and the parties, which has been the agency’s expectation for many years, and adds a requirement that conciliation offers be approved by the appropriate level of management before they are shared with respondents.  In short, the pilot seeks to drive greater internal accountability and improve the EEOC’s implementation of existing practices.  

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.  More information is available at  Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.


Posted  July 14, 2020


How Do We Renew Our Nation’s Failing Human Rights Commitment? 


Within the span of a few months, appalling challenges to America’s professed human rights vision have played out nightly on the evening news. The most well-known examples — Breonna Taylor, shot while asleep in her Kentucky home, Ahmaud Arbery, gunned down while jogging in Georgia and George Floyd in Minneapolis, who suffocated when a white officer pinned him down with a knee to the neck — are the tragic details in a larger story. America’s failing human rights commitment.  Article contributor Chad Dion Lassiter,Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

Read complete article.

Posted  July 1, 2020

EEOC Issues Resolution Mourning the Deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and AhMaud Arbery


In response to the tragic and horrifying deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd and the resulting protests opposing systemic racism, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a resolution today committing the agency to redouble its efforts to address institutionalized racism, advance justice, and foster equality of opportunity in the workplace. 

The resolution, unanimously approved by the Commission, references the creation of the agency through the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and notes EEOC’s history of enforcing anti-discrimination laws and promoting equal opportunity in the workplace.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.


More information is available at


Posted  June 11, 2020




EEOC Unveils New Webpage on Commisioner Charges and Directed Investigations: Agency Explains Important Processes to Fight Discrimination 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today posted a new document on its website explaining the role and procedures of two key EEOC processes to combat employment discrimination -- Commissioner charges and directed investigations.

Federal law authorizes any Commissioner to file a discrimination charge alleging that an employer violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), or the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), after which the charge is investigated by the appropriate EEOC field office. In addition, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and the Equal Pay Act (EPA) authorize EEOC field offices to initiate investigations of possible violations of those two statutes even without a charge from an aggrieved individual.  These processes are in addition to the more common pro­cedure of EEOC field offices receiving discrimination charges from individual employees or job appli­cants and then evaluat­ing and investi­gating those charges.

The purpose of the new webpage is to explain exactly how Commissioner charges and directed investigations work – for the benefit of employers and potential job dis­crimination victims alike.

“The EEOC is strongly committed to making our processes fully transparent and useful to the public,” said EEOC Chair Janet Dhillon. “Commissioner charges and directed investigations are important tools in the Commission’s arsenal to fight employment discrimination, and it is vital that the public knows how we use them.”

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

Posted  June 6, 2020

U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Calls on Department of Justice

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights unanimously condemned the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, and calls on the Department of Justice to enforce federal civil rights law that protect Americans from unconstitutional policing practices. The Commission also unanimously urged all law enforcement to follow constitutional policing practices in response to the recent demonstrations. In a 2018 report “Police Use of Force: An Examination of Modern Policing Practices,” “the relationship between law enforcement and many communities in the U.S. is fraught and challenging, particularly for those who experience violent crimes coupled with intensive police presence and surveillance.” The Commission also mourned the passing of LGBTQ and AIDS activist Larry Kramer.


Posted  June 5, 2020



EEOC Updates COVID-19 Technical Assistance Publication
Contains Q&A Section of Common Workplace Questions


WASHINGTON – The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today posted an updated and expanded technical assistance publication addressing questions arising under the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Laws related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The publication, “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and Other EEO Laws” expands on a previous publication that focused on the ADA and Rehabilitation Act.  The newly added questions and answers, G.3, G.4., and G.5., provide information about the accommodation of employees with underlying medical conditions.  The answer to G.4. was revised after initial posting to clarify that the ADA does not allow exclusion of employees simply because they have an underlying medical condition that the CDC says might pose a higher risk of severe illness if the individual contracts COVID-19.

“It is important that employers understand that the ADA does not allow them to act against employees solely because the employee has a CDC-listed underlying medical condition,” said Legal Counsel Andrew Maunz. “Employers must do a thorough direct threat analysis, which includes an individualized assessment based on relevant factors and a determination of whether the threat can be reduced or eliminated through a reasonable accommodation."

EEOC’s publication had already addressed workplace screening and exclusion permitted of those who pose a direct threat to others due to having COVID-19 or symptoms and could transmit it to others.  Questions G.4. and G.5 address the direct threat to self that an employer would have to meet to exclude someone from the workplace due to a CDC-identified underlying medical condition.

In response to inquiries from the public, the EEOC has provided resources on its website related to the pandemic in an employment context.  The agency will continue to monitor developments and provide assistance to the public as needed.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employ­ment discrimination. More information is available at . Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates


Alert: HHS Awards More than a Half Billion Dollars to Help Vulnerable and Underserved Communities Gain Access to COVID-19 Testing

The Full Press Release may be found on HHS’s website here.

For a list of award recipients, visit

To learn more about health center capacity and the impact of COVID-19 on health center operations, patients and staff, visit

For more information about COVID-19, visit

For more information about COVID-19 and civil rights, visit

Posted May 7, 2020 / Alert Posted June 8



The Commission on Civil Rights Statement on COVID-19

On Friday April 17, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a statement calling on federal agencies to continue enforcing civil rights laws during and in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, to address ongoing civil rights issues as well as new civil rights violations that have arisen as a result of the crisis.


The nation’s attention in addressing the coronavirus pandemic must include addressing and guarding against potential civil rights violations to ensure the health and safety of all Americans, regardless of race, national origin, ability status, or any other protected characteristic. There is no time when civil rights violations are acceptable, and our collective survival of this outbreak depends on the federal government upholding our critical civil rights laws.


The Commission also calls on Congress to provide necessary funding for civil rights enforcement for Fiscal Year 2021, including for COVID-19 associated enforcement. The Commission recognizes that some agencies, such as HHS, ED, EEOC, and FEMA have issued relevant civil rights guidance. But the Commission is concerned with directives from other agencies that pull back on civil rights enforcement, such as from the EPA and the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. The Commission also points out that federal agencies need the appropriate data to investigate and craft appropriate policy to prevent potential civil rights violations. Locally collected data already reflects profound racial disparities in deaths due to coronavirus. These pronounced disparities and the need to better protect the health of all Americans from current and future catastrophic viral risks make it imperative that the federal government require data broken down by demographics like race, national origin, sex, gender, ability status, and age.


You can read the full statement here:

Posted April 20, 2020










IAOHRA Board Members Hold their Winter Meeting of the Board, March 10 -12, in Washington DC 
Members in attendance left to right include Kenneth Gunn, Member-at-Large, Jean Kelleher, Immediate Past President, Gwendolyn Wiggins, Member-at-Lare, Angela Rush, IAOHRA Treasurer, Robin Toma, IAOHRA President, Alisa Warren, 1st Vice President, Diane Clements, Midwest Regional Representative, and Paul Valenti, Southern Regional Representative. Also in attendance was James L.Stowe, Atlantic Regional Representative.


HHS Office for Civil Rights Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications during the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is responsible for enforcing certain regulations issued under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, to protect the privacy and security of protected health information, namely the HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Rules (the HIPAA Rules). 

During the COVID-19 national emergency, which also constitutes a nationwide public health emergency, covered health care providers subject to the HIPAA Rules may seek to communicate with patients, and provide telehealth services, through remote communications technologies.  Some of these technologies, and the manner in which they are used by HIPAA covered health care providers, may not fully comply with the requirements of the HIPAA Rules. 

OCR will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for noncompliance with the regulatory requirements under the HIPAA Rules against covered health care providers in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.  This notification is effective immediately. 

A covered health care provider that wants to use audio or video communication technology to provide telehealth to patients during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency can use any non-public facing remote communication product that is available to communicate with patients.  OCR is exercising its enforcement discretion to not impose penalties for noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth using such non-public facing audio or video communication products during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.  This exercise of discretion applies to telehealth provided for any reason, regardless of whether the telehealth service is related to the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions related to COVID-19.

For example, a covered health care provider in the exercise of their professional judgement may request to examine a patient exhibiting COVID- 19 symptoms, using a video chat application connecting the provider’s or patient’s phone or desktop computer in order to assess a greater number of patients while limiting the risk of infection of other persons who would be exposed from an in-person consultation.  Likewise, a covered health care provider may provide similar telehealth services in the exercise of their professional judgment to assess or treat any other medical condition, even if not related to COVID-19, such as a sprained ankle, dental consultation or psychological evaluation, or other conditions. 

Under this Notice, covered health care providers may use popular applications that allow for video chats, including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, or Skype, to provide telehealth without risk that OCR might seek to impose a penalty for noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules related to the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.  Providers are encouraged to notify patients that these third-party applications potentially introduce privacy risks, and providers should enable all available encryption and privacy modes when using such applications. 

Under this Notice, however, Facebook Live, Twitch, TikTok, and similar video communication applications are public facing, and should not be used in the provision of telehealth by covered health care providers.

Covered health care providers that seek additional privacy protections for telehealth while using video communication products should provide such services through technology vendors that are HIPAA compliant and will enter into HIPAA business associate agreements (BAAs) in connection with the provision of their video communication products.  The list below includes some vendors that represent that they provide HIPAA-compliant video communication products and that they will enter into a HIPAA BAA.

  • Skype for Business

  • Updox

  • VSee

  • Zoom for Healthcare


  • Google G Suite Hangouts Meet


Note: OCR has not reviewed the BAAs offered by these vendors, and this list does not constitute an endorsement, certification, or recommendation of specific technology, software, applications, or products. There may be other technology vendors that offer HIPAA-compliant video communication products that will enter into a HIPAA BAA with a covered entity.  Further, OCR does not endorse any of the applications that allow for video chats listed above.

Under this Notice, however, OCR will not impose penalties against covered health care providers for the lack of a BAA with video communication vendors or any other noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules that relates to the good faith provision of telehealth services during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. 

OCR has published a bulletin advising covered entities of further flexibilities available to them as well as obligations that remain in effect under HIPAA as they respond to crises or emergencies

at - PDF.

Guidance on BAAs, including sample BAA provisions, is available at

Additional information about HIPAA Security Rule safeguards is available at has technical assistance on telehealth at

Posted  March 18, 2020

See California’s Effort to Grant Civil Rights to Various Marginalized Citizens 

Information submitted by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing

Posted January 12, 202



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