The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) has praised the Supreme Court disposal of a critical case about the ability of testers to determine compliance with civil rights laws. The case regarding a Maine hotel that could have made it harder for people with disabilities to learn in advance whether a hotel’s accommodations meet their needs. Hotels and other business interests had urged the justices to limit the ability of fair housing testers to file lawsuits against hotels that fail to disclose accessibility information on their websites and through other reservation services.
“The Supreme Court exhibited sound judicial prudence in disposing of the Acheson v. Laufer case on mootness grounds. The long-standing precedent allowing for civil rights ‘testers’ to uncover unlawful discrimination across a range of markets – housing, employment, credit, and technology – continues to serve an invaluable function in vindicating our nation’s civil rights laws. The Acheson case had carried significant implications for the ability of “testers” to bring lawsuits, potentially jeopardizing the essential work undertaken by advocates in the pursuit of fair housing and equitable opportunities. Because the potential detrimental effects of this case were so profound, NFHA filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, joined by 50 of our operating members, which are local fair housing enforcement agencies, and three fair housing testers.
The decision provides stability under long-standing Supreme Court jurisprudence to those working to advance fair housing initiatives.