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Valerie Hletko Quoted in Dallas Morning News Article, "Dallas Fair Housing Case Raises Questions About Bias Suits"

Valerie L. Hletko

Valerie Hletko was quoted in Julia Chiquillo's Dallas Morning News article, "Dallas Fair Housing Case Raises Questions About Bias Suits," on Monday, November 30, 2015. 

“They’re [plaintiffs] put through their paces at a much earlier stage,” said Valerie Hletko, an attorney who represents financial institutions and others in fair housing cases for the firm Buckley Sandler in Washington, D.C.

She pointed to the first step in a three-part test from the federal government when trying disparate impact cases. A person or group that complains about a disparate impact must show that it’s the result of a discriminatory policy.

In the past, plaintiffs have alleged disparate impact by presenting statistical disparities and suggesting that they probably were caused by a discriminatory policy or practice, Hletko said. In her view, the Supreme Court’s opinion that plaintiffs must assert “robust causality” tightens the standard.

Yet what the Supreme Court said about the second step of the test has more legally impact, Hletko said.

“It lightened the burden on the defendant,” she said.

In that step, the federal government took the position in the past that the entity being sued needed to show a “substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest.”

The Supreme Court defined that step more sharply and held that a defendant can satisfy its burden by showing that the practice is not “artificial, arbitrary and unnecessary,” Hletko said.

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