LAW Housing Discrimination Law, Theory and Practice: Brainstorming and Implementing Solutions to Discrimination

Prof. William Berman,

2 credits day; 2 credits evening.


Students using this course to fulfill the experiential learning requirement may not also use this same course to meet the legal writing requirement.


The Fair Housing Act was intended to end discrimination and segregation in housing. That goal has not yet been fulfilled. This course is designed to offer the student the opportunity to explore how lawyers work collaboratively to make strategic decisions that address important social problems in the context of housing discrimination. Students will take an in-depth look at significant issues related to fair housing law, and will also focus on valuable lawyering skills including fact investigation, working with witnesses, recording experiences and critical thinking.

Suffolk has received a grant to begin a housing discrimination testing program. Discrimination testing involves sending trained individuals into the community to pose as renters in order to collect information as to whether housing discrimination is occurring. Each student will assist in supervising at least one housing discrimination test during the course of the semester. Although not a required part of the course, students may have the opportunity to assist in the community as discrimination testers, which would provide an opportunity for even deeper insight into housing discrimination. In class, we will focus on practical skills such as strategic decision making, factual investigation, witness preparation, and recording experiences. We will discuss the various overlapping sources of fair housing law, and examine who is covered, what actions are prohibited as discriminatory, who can be sued, and who has standing to sue. We will take an in depth look at jurisdictional issues, and matters of proof in discrimination cases, using hypothetical scenarios and real life examples. The final assignment will be to write a paper in which the student designs a systemic discrimination test, or presents policy recommendations relating to housing discrimination. Our discrimination testers may perform some student designed tests, which will allow us to reflect on the strategic choices that went into designing the test, based upon actual experience. Various professionals working in the housing community will speak in class and will offer their unique perspectives on issues relating to discrimination based upon their personal experiences. The final grade will be based upon in-class participation, class assignments, and the paper.


pointer    Elective Course

pointer    Meets Experiential Learning Requirement

pointer    Final Paper Required


<<Course Updated: April 08, 2016>>