Page:Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.pdf/14

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Opinion of the Court

to §4(a)(2) of the ADEA. The Smith plurality emphasized that both §703(a)(2) of Title VII and §4(a)(2) of the ADEA contain language “prohibit[ing] such actions that 'deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect his status as an employee, because of such individual's' race or age." 544 U. S., at 235. As the plurality observed, the text of these provisions "focuses on the effects of the action on the employee rather than the motivation for the action of the employer" and therefore compels recognition of disparate-impact liability. Id., at 236. In a separate opinion, Justice Scalia found the ADEA’s text ambiguous and thus deferred under Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837 (1984), to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulation interpreting the ADEA to impose disparate-impact liability, see 544 U. S., at 243–247 (opinion concurring in part and concurring in judgment).

Together, Griggs holds and the plurality in Smith instructs that antidiscrimination laws must be construed to encompass disparate-impact claims when their text refers to the consequences of actions and not just to the mindset of actors, and where that interpretation is consistent with statutory purpose. These cases also teach that disparate-impact liability must be limited so employers and other regulated entities are able to make the practical business choices and profit-related decisions that sustain a vibrant and dynamic free-enterprise system. And before rejecting a business justification—or, in the case of a governmental entity, an analogous public interest—a court must determine that a plaintiff has shown that there is "an available alternative . . . practice that has less disparate impact and serves the [entity’s] legitimate needs." Ricci, supra, at 578. The cases interpreting Title VII and the ADEA provide essential background and instruction in the case now before the Court.

Turning to the FHA, the ICP relies on two provisions.