A pair of Black women who claim they were unfairly denied housing in Massachusetts due to an algorithm used to screen prospective tenants are engaged in a lawsuit challenging both the company responsible for the formula and what they deemed a “discriminatory” practice that keeps Black and Hispanic applicants from securing homes.
With the case well underway in U.S. District Court in Boston, the Justice Department on Monday filed an amicus brief noting its interest in the case and arguing that the federal Fair Housing Act applies to the companies whose algorithms are used to determine if tenants qualify for housing.
“Algorithms are written by people. As such, they are susceptible to all of the biases, implicit or explicit, of the people that create them,” U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins said in a statement. “Today’s filing recognizes that our 20th-century civil rights laws apply to 21st-century innovations.”