August 2023 Coach's Quiz
An apartment property manager uses her mobile phone to record tenants enjoying themselves during a community pool party. Although there are Black and white tenants at the party, the manager films only the white residents. Do you think it’s a good idea for her to upload the video to the community’s Instagram page?
a. Yes, because there are no discriminatory advertising ramifications since these are real tenants and not models
b. No, because the video expresses a preference for white people
c. Yes, because content on a social networking website like Instagram doesn’t count as advertising
Fictional Tech (FT) is an all-Black college located in a small, rural town. It’s also the only college or university in that town. After years of leasing to FT students, an apartment community in the town adopts a no-student policy after having learned from experience that students are more likely than other tenants to be noisy, destructive, and unreliable in paying rent on time. A local fair housing advocacy organization sues the community for racial discrimination. Does it have a valid case?
a. No, because the policy applies to students of any and all races
b. No, because being noisy, destructive, and financially unreliable are legitimate, nondiscriminatory criteria for exclusion
c. Yes, because the policy has discriminatory effects
COACH’S ANSWERS & EXPLANATIONS
Correct answer: b
Reason: Using the video to promote the community is an example of #6:
6. Discriminatory Use of Human Models
It’s okay to use human models in ads as long as you don’t send veiled messages about the race, color, and other protected characteristics of the people who should rent from you. Because the manager’s video shows only white tenants, it suggests that you don’t welcome persons of other races and colors. While this isn’t definitive proof of discrimination, the community still shouldn’t use the footage in its ads and marketing materials, unless it defuses the liability risks by accompanying the footage with additional images showing the other non-white attendees. So, b. is the correct answer.
Wrong answers explained:
a. is wrong because the rules for discriminatory use of models apply regardless of whether the individuals shown are models or real tenants, or for that matter, real people as opposed to drawings or other graphic representations.
c. is wrong because the rules on discriminatory advertising apply to just about any content used to promote a community, including on social media and community websites.
Correct answer: c
Reason: The no-student policy is an example of #2:
2. Policies that Look Neutral But Have a Discriminatory Impact
Being a student isn’t a protected characteristic under the FHA. Moreover, the no-student policy applies to all students regardless of race and other protected characteristics. However, there’s one other key factor to consider—namely, that the only school in the town is an all-Black college. Accordingly, the no-student policy has a disparate impact on Black renters. Result: The advocacy organization would likely have a prima facie case for discrimination and c. is the right answer. Note: This doesn’t necessarily mean the apartment community is guilty. What it does mean is that the burden would shift to the community to show that the policy serves a legitimate, nondiscriminatory purpose and is the least discriminatory possible way to achieve that purpose.
Wrong answers explained:
a. is wrong because policies that are neutral on their face may still be discriminatory if they have the effect of excluding people of certain races. This is true even if the discriminatory effect is inadvertent and unintentional. At the end of the day, racial discrimination banned by the FHA includes not just racism and deliberate exclusion but also well-intentioned acts that have the effect of perpetuating exclusion and segregation.
b. is arguably a correct statement but the wrong answer to this question. Making noise, damaging property, and not paying rent are all legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons not to rent to a person. And the apartment community in this scenario could make a strong argument that assuming students will be noisy, destructive, and financially unreliable is based on actual experience and not just a stereotype. However, a neutral policy with discriminatory effects may still be illegal even when it serves a legitimate purpose. The inquiry would become whether the community could find a less discriminatory way to solve its problems with students. Rather than automatically banning all students, maybe the community could tighten its financial eligibility requirements and noise and property damage policies.
See The Lesson For This Quiz
|Racial Discrimination Without Racism: 8 Ways Well-Intentioned Landlords Get into Fair Housing Trouble|