Alfreda and Devon Keck, an African-American couple, contacted the FHC in 2004 to report their treatment at Kensington Court hotel. Testing by the Fair Housing Center supported their claim of discrimination based on race. Cooperating Attorney Stephen M. Dane filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Kecks. The case was assigned to Federal District Court Judge Robert Cleland.
The couple tried unsuccessfully for three months to reserve the Kensington Court hotel in Ann Arbor, Michigan for their wedding reception. The Kecks were never permitted to place a deposit, sign a contract, or even schedule an appointment with the hotel’s wedding specialist.
The District Court granted defendants’ motion for summary judgment, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed in a rare appellate decision addressing the elements of a prima facie case of race discrimination in a retail establishment. The appellate court held that a plaintiff need not rely exclusively on showing differential treatment of similarly situated customers to raise an inference of discrimination. Rather, in the retail establishment context, a plaintiff can survive summary judgment by showing that the defendant’s behavior “was so profoundly contrary to its financial interests, and so far outside of widely accepted business norms,” that the conduct supports a rational inference of discrimination. The case was settled after the appellate decision.
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