Relman, Dane Colfax is a civil rights law firm based in Washington, D.C. with additional offices in Ohio and New Mexico. We litigate civil rights cases in the areas of housing, lending, employment, public accommodations, education, and police accountability. Our national practice includes individual and class action lawsuits on behalf of plaintiffs who have suffered discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, national origin, color, religion, sex, disability, age, familial status, source of income, and sexual orientation.
The firm also provides legal counsel to progressive companies that demonstrate a commitment to best practices in the way they conduct business. Such counsel includes representation of financial institutions in reporting to their regulators on fair lending and fair servicing issues. We conduct investigations and provide counseling regarding consumer protection, privacy, lending, employment, whistleblower, and federal regulatory matters. Our practice also includes analysis and strategy regarding public policy issues and proposed legislation affecting civil rights.
In the News
Federal Court Class Action Challenges Predatory “Rent-to-Own” Housing Scheme Targeted At Minority Communities in Indianapolis
On May 30, 2017, Relman, Dane & Colfax, PLLC filed a class action housing discrimination lawsuit on behalf of four individuals and the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana against Rainbow Realty Group, Inc. Empire Holding Corporation, and James R. Hotka. The complaint alleges that the Defendants use the promise of homeownership to lure people into toxic “rent-to-own” contracts for rundown houses, reviving predatory land contract practices that denied fair homeownership opportunities to residents of minority neighborhoods during much of the twentieth century. The lawsuit asserts claims under the federal Fair Housing, Equal Credit Opportunity, and Truth in Lending Acts, as well as state law. To read more and review the complaint click here.
Relman, Dane & Colfax Wins Landmark Seventh Circuit Decision For Wisconsin Transgender Student
In a groundbreaking decision, a three-judge Seventh Circuit panel unanimously affirmed a preliminary injunction that required the Kenosha Unified School District in Wisconsin to permit Ash Whitaker, a 17-year-old transgender boy, to use the boys’ restrooms at his high school. The Seventh Circuit found that the school district’s refusal to let Ash use the appropriate bathroom violates both Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The historic order is the first federal appellate decision to find that federal law requires public schools to permit a transgender student to use the bathroom corresponding to the student’s gender identity without reference to the Obama Administration’s guidance on the subject, which the Trump Administration withdrew earlier this year. To read more and review the appellate opinion click here.
Federal Court Complaint Challenges Georgia City’s Discriminatory Utility Policies
On May 18, 2017, Relman, Dane & Colfax, along with the National Immigration Law Center and the Southern Center for Human Rights, filed a lawsuit against the City of LaGrange, Georgia, on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, Troup County NAACP, Project South, and seven individual plaintiffs challenging LaGrange’s utility service policies that have an unlawful disparate impact on African Americans and Latinos. To read more and review the complaint click here.
Relman, Dane & Colfax Settles Affordable Housing Case for $2.45 Million
On April 18, 2017, the Village of Tinley Park, Illinois agreed to pay $2.45 million to settle fair housing claims brought by Buckeye Community Hope Foundation. The lawsuit alleged that Village officials’ actions to block the development of Buckeye’s affordable housing development had the purpose and effect of discriminating against African Americans and families with children. The settlement represents one of the largest monetary payments to an affordable housing provider for claims brought under the Fair Housing Act. To read more about the case click here.
Federal Court Complaint Challenges Connecticut Town’s Discriminatory Treatment of Group Home for People with Disabilities
On April 17, 2017, Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC and the Connecticut Fair Housing Center filed a housing discrimination lawsuit, on behalf of the Center and Gilead Community Services, against the Town of Cromwell, Connecticut. The complaint alleges that Cromwell and three of its high-ranking officials violated three federal civil rights laws–the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act–through an illegal and concerted campaign to force Gilead to close a residence for individuals with mental health diagnoses. To read more and review the complaint click here.
Relman, Dane & Colfax Settles Race Discrimination Class Action Against the Secret Service for $24 Million and Reform of Promotions System
On January 17, 2017, Relman, Dane & Colfax reached a historic settlement in its oldest case – a class action on behalf of more than 100 Special Agents of the United States Secret Service. Filed in 2000, the case alleged that African American Secret Service Agents had been subjected to a racially discriminatory promotion system that denied them a fair opportunity for promotion. For 16 years and through three administrations, Relman, Dane & Colfax, along with Hogan Lovells, fought in both trial and appellate courts to win relief for members of the class. In addition to substantial monetary relief, the settlement requires the Secret Service to make significant changes to its promotion system to ensure greater transparency and accountability in decision making. To read more and review the Settlement click here.
Relman, Dane & Colfax Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against Fannie Mae on Behalf of Twenty-One Private Fair Housing Organizations
Relman, Dane & Colfax PLLC filed a housing discrimination lawsuit against Fannie Mae on behalf of the National Fair Housing Alliance and twenty local fair housing organizations. To read more and review the Complaint click here .
Relman, Dane & Colfax Secures Two Early Victories for Wisconsin Transgender Student
A Wisconsin federal judge has issued an injunction requiring a public school district to permit Ashton (“Ash”) Whitaker, a 17-year-old transgender boy, to use the boys’ restrooms at his high school. The historic order is only the second of several such injunctions issued by federal courts against public K-12 school districts. To read more click here.
Relman, Dane & Colfax Secures Landmark Accessible Housing Settlement with City of Los Angeles
On August 30, the Los Angeles City Council agreed to settle litigation brought under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act by three nonprofit disability and fair housing advocacy groups that had claimed the City’s housing programs were inaccessible to people with disabilities. The agreement, which is the largest of its kind in the country, provides that, over the next 10 years, the City will ensure that at least 4,000 of its affordable housing units meet architectural standards required by the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS). Those UFAS standards require substantially greater accessibility than the Fair Housing Act Accessibility Guidelines; for instance, UFAS requires accessible roll-in or transfer showers, much larger maneuvering clearances at doors, lowered kitchen counters and greater access to appliances, and grab bars must be pre-installed in bathrooms. To read more and review the Judgment and Settlement Agreement click here.
Relman, Dane & Colfax Files Race and Familial Status Discrimination Case Against Chicago Suburb
On April 19, 2016, Relman, Dane & Colfax filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois on behalf of Buckeye Community Hope Foundation (“Buckeye”), a non-profit affordable housing developer, challenging the Village of Tinley Park’s obstruction of Buckeye’s efforts to build a multi-family affordable housing development. Tinley Park, which is thirty miles southwest of Chicago, is just 3.6 percent African American, but a much larger percentage of the neighboring population that is eligible for affordable housing is African American. To read more and review the Complaint click here .