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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Real estate brokerage firm settles claims of discriminatory practices

State Issues Enforcement Consumer Finance Discrimination Fair Lending State Attorney General Fair Housing Act

State Issues

On March 15, the New York attorney general announced a settlement with a real estate brokerage firm to resolve claims that it allegedly discriminated against Black, Hispanic, and other homebuyers of color on Long Island. According to the announcement, the Office of the Attorney General commenced investigations into several brokerage firms, in which it found that agents employed by the brokerage firm at issue violated the Fair Housing Act and New York state law when they allegedly “subjected prospective homebuyers of color to different requirements than white homebuyers, directed homebuyers of color to homes in neighborhoods where residents predominantly belonged to communities of color, and otherwise engaged in biased behavior.” In certain instances, agents allegedly disparaged neighborhoods of color and “warned white potential homebuyers about the diverse racial makeup of the neighborhood but did not share the same comments with Black and Hispanic potential homebuyers.”

Under the terms of the assurance of discontinuance, the brokerage firm agreed to stop the alleged conduct, will offer comprehensive fair housing training to all agents, and will provide a discrimination complaint form on its website. The brokerage firm will also pay $20,000 in penalties and $10,000 to Suffolk County to promote enforcement and compliance with fair housing laws. This is the fourth action taken by the AG’s office against real estate brokerage firms in the state. As previously covered by InfoBytes, last August three Long Island real estate brokerage firms entered settlements to resolve claims of discriminatory practices.