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Litigation

Vargas v. Facebook, No. 21-16499 (9th Cir.) – amicus brief

Facebook’s targeted advertising system enables discrimination and digital redlining, we argued in an amicus brief to the 9th Circuit. In Vargas, Facebook targeted and delivered housing ads in a manner that excluded some users on the basis of protected characteristics. The Fair Housing Act recognizes this type of discriminatory advertising as an injury and Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act does not immunize Facebook’s conduct. We explained to the court how the digital redlining at issue here is just a modern version of past segregation and redlining in housing and other economic opportunities. Lawyers’ Committee filed the brief on behalf of itself, ACLU, National Fair Housing Alliance, and Free Press.

  • Read the amicus brief here.
  • Read the district court decision here.

Opiotennione v. Bozzuto Mgmt. Corp., No. 21-01919 (4th Cir.) – amicus brief

Landlords routinely and intentionally excluded certain types of Facebook users from receiving housing advertisements on the basis of protected characteristics, we argued in an amicus brief to the 4th Circuit. Landlords and other housing providers must not be allowed to run discriminatory advertisements on Facebook that exclude people on the basis of their race, sex, age, or other legally-protected characteristics. Our brief explained how such discrimination fits into the history of redlining and is prohibited by federal and state law. Lawyers’ Committee filed this brief on behalf of itself, ACLU, National Fair Housing Alliance, and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

  • Read the amicus brief here.
  • Read the district court decision here***.(4)

Henderson v. The Source of Public Data, No. 21-01678 (4th Cir.) – amicus brief

Background check companies cannot ignore their legal obligations under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) simply because they operate a website, we argued in an amicus brief to the 4th Circuit. FCRA requires that credit reporting agencies, like background check services, allow individuals to access and correct their personal information in the agency’s databases, like inaccuracies in credit information or criminal history. Our brief explained how a company violating these requirements does not receive immunity under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act and how such a broad interpretation of Section 230 would vitiate other civil rights laws. We filed this brief with the National Fair Housing Alliance.

  • Read the amicus brief here.
  • Read the district court decision here.

Liapes v. Facebook, No. 30-CIV-01712 (Calif. Super. Ct., San Mateo) – amicus brief

Facebook’s advertising system engages in segregation and redlining, we argued in an amicus brief to the California Superior Court. In Liapes, a plaintiff sued Facebook for discriminating on the basis of her sex and age when delivering ads for insurance opportunities. Our amicus brief describes how Facebook’s advertising system discriminates on the basis of race, sex and age in both the targeting and delivery of ads, and why such redlining practices unjustly threaten to give rise to a modern version of segregation in online commerce. The trial court granted Facebook’s motion to dismiss.

  • Read the amicus brief here.
  • Read the trial court decision here***.
  • Read our press release here.

Opiotennione v. Facebook, No. 19-cv-07185 (N.D.Cal.) – amicus brief

How a platform targets and delivers online ads has the ability to exclude entire classes of individuals from seeing economic opportunities, like employment, housing and banking, without them even knowing that platform is discriminating against them. We submitted an amicus brief arguing that Facebook engages in unlawful online segregation and redlining when its algorithms discriminate in the delivery of ads. The district court granted Facebook’s motion to dismiss.

  • Read the amicus brief here.
  • Read the district court decision here***.
  • Read our press release here.

Freedom Watch v. Google, No. 19-7030 (D.C. Cir.) – amicus brief

This case raised the question of whether or not District of Columbia public accommodations statute applies to online businesses. Public accommodations laws prohibit businesses that serve the general public from discriminating in their goods and services. We filed an amicus brief, along with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, arguing that the D.C. Human Rights Act did apply to online businesses. While the D.C. Circuit ruled that online businesses are exempt, the D.C. Council subsequently overturned this decision and expanded the anti-discrimination law in new legislation.

  • Read the amicus brief here.
  • Read the D.C. Circuit opinion here.
  • Read about the new legislation here.