Page:Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc.pdf/20

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Opinion of the Court

exemption from liability for real-estate appraisers is in the same section as §805(a)’s prohibition of discriminatory practices in real-estate transactions, thus indicating Congress' recognition that disparate-impact liability arose under §805(a). In short, the 1988 amendments signal that Congress ratified disparate-impact liability.

A comparison to Smith's discussion of the ADEA further demonstrates why the Department’s interpretation would render the 1988 amendments superfluous. Under the ADEA’s reasonable-factor-other-than-age (RFOA) provision, an employer is permitted to take an otherwise prohibited action where "the differentiation is based on reasonable factors other than age." 29 U. S. C. §623(f )(1). In other words, if an employer makes a decision based on a reasonable factor other than age, it cannot be said to have made a decision on the basis of an employee's age. According to the Smith plurality, the RFOA provision "plays its principal role" "in cases involving disparate-impact claims" "by precluding liability if the adverse impact was attributable to a nonage factor that was 'reasonable.'" 544 U. S., at 239. The plurality thus reasoned that the RFOA provision would be "simply unnecessary to avoid liability under the ADEA" if liability were limited to disparate-treatment claims. Id., at 238.

A similar logic applies here. If a real-estate appraiser took into account a neighborhood’s schools, one could not say the appraiser acted because of race. And by embedding 42 U. S. C. §3605(c)’s exemption in the statutory text, Congress ensured that disparate-impact liability would not be allowed either. Indeed, the inference of disparate-impact liability is even stronger here than it was in Smith. As originally enacted, the ADEA included the RFOA provision, see §4(f)(1), 81 Stat. 603, whereas here Congress added the relevant exemptions in the 1988 amendments against the backdrop of the uniform view of the Courts of Appeals that the FHA imposed disparate-impact liability.