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Case Name Ohuoha v. Facebook FH-CA-0026
Docket / Court 5:16-cv-06440 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance
Case Summary
After a ProPublica article highlighted that Facebook allows advertisers to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities,” three individuals who have used Facebook to search for apartments and ... read more >
After a ProPublica article highlighted that Facebook allows advertisers to exclude specific groups it calls “Ethnic Affinities,” three individuals who have used Facebook to search for apartments and lines of credit filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Facebook and 9,999 unidentified advertisers on November 3, 2016.

Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs sued Facebook under the Fair Housing Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The plaintiffs asked the court for certification as a class, declaratory relief, temporary and permanent injunctive relief, and monetary damages, both in the form of statutory damages and civil penalties.

The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant advertisers had used Facebook's "ethnic affinities" feature to discriminate against potential renters on the basis of their background, and that Facebook allowed them to do so. The plaintiff's further allege that Facebook's tools "are a central aspect of Business' ability to selectively market, recruit, source, advertise, and brand employment, housing, and credit opportunities in a discriminatory manner."

On February 13, 2017, the Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, naming only Facebook as a Defendant. It added allegations under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C.
§1691, (“ECOA”), the Civil Rights Act of 1866, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981-82 (“Section
1981” and “Section 1982”), the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Gov.
Code § 12900, (“FEHA”), the California Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code
§ 17200, (“UCL”), and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civil Code § 51(b).

In the amended complaint, the Plaintiffs alleged generally that Facebook "enables and encourages" discrimination by allowing businesses to exclude individuals from solicitation for a number of services ("relevant opportunities") including access to credit and apartment rentals on the basis of their racial background. The plaintiffs further alleged that, in offering this tool, Facebook engaged in a practice of "providing racially discriminatory marketing, recruitment, sourcing, advertising, branding, information, and/or hiring services for and on behalf of employers, housing providers, and creditors in violation of federal and state civil rights laws."

The case has been assigned to Judge Edward J. Davila and Magistrate Judge Susan van Keulen. As of now, scheduling of pre-trial conferences has occurred, with an initial case management conference schedule for March 2017, with an ADR conference scheduled for June 2017.

Micah Telegen - 03/02/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Comply with advertising/recruiting requirements
Discrimination Prohibition
Discrimination-area
Housing Sales/Rental
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
Race discrimination
General
Classification / placement
Housing
Racial segregation
National Origin/Ethnicity
Other
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Race, unspecified
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1981
42 U.S.C. § 1982
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), 15 U.S.C. § 1691
Fair Housing Act/Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq.
State Anti-Discrimination Law
State law
Title VII (including PDA), 42 U.S.C. § 2000e
Defendant(s) Facebook, Inc.
Plaintiff Description Private individuals hoping to represent putative class
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Unknown
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  The Origins of Fair Lending Litigation
Date: Dec. 4, 2008
By: Andrew Nash (Washington University in St. Louis)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
5:16-cv-6440 (N.D. Cal.)
FH-CA-0026-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/28/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
FH-CA-0026-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/03/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint [ECF# 28]
FH-CA-0026-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/13/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Davila, Edward John (N.D. Cal.)
FH-CA-0026-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Eiland, Katrina L. (California)
FH-CA-0026-9000
Flanders, Jason Robert (California)
FH-CA-0026-0001 | FH-CA-0026-0002 | FH-CA-0026-9000
Hoffman, Sarah Margaret Keast (California)
FH-CA-0026-0002 | FH-CA-0026-9000
Klein, Adam T. (New York)
FH-CA-0026-0002 | FH-CA-0026-9000
Lopez, P. David (District of Columbia)
FH-CA-0026-0002 | FH-CA-0026-9000
Most, William Brock (California)
FH-CA-0026-0001 | FH-CA-0026-0002 | FH-CA-0026-9000
Sagafi, Jahan C (California)
FH-CA-0026-0002 | FH-CA-0026-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Ring, Rosemarie T (California)
FH-CA-0026-9000

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