Congressional hearing on the disparate impact theory

On November 19, 2013, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing entitled “A General Overview of Disparate Impact Theory.”

Disparate impact theory allows the government or private litigants to bring discrimination claims based solely on statistics that show that an otherwise neutral policy has a disparate impact on protected classes without having to show intent to discriminate. Although the disparate impact theory is used primarily to bring housing discrimination cases under the FHA, which prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of color, religion, sex, familial status and national origin, it could conceivably be used to challenge insurance risk classifications that have a disparate impact on a protected class. Courts have found that homeowners insurance is essential to obtaining a mortgage and, therefore, is subject to the FHA.