Court Says HOA Pool Rules Violated Federal Fair Housing Act

This case involved a dispute between association members and a Condominium Association (“Association”) over the validity of rules that had been adopted by Association which implemented a schedule of times when men and women had exclusive use of Association’s swimming pool. The rules that Association adopted allowed men 31.5 hours per week to swim when women could not use the pool, women 34.25 hours per week when men could not use the pool, and 25 hours per week of coed swimming. The rules also allowed for 3.5 hours of women’s pool time after 5 p.m., compared to 16.5 hours for men. The reason for Association’s adoption of the rules was to accommodate Orthodox Jewish members whose religious beliefs preventing men and women seeing each other in a state of undress, including bathing attire.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Association alleging that the swimming pool policy violated the anti-discrimination provisions of the federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”) and New Jersey state laws against discrimination. The FHA states that it is unlawful to “discriminate against any person in the terms, conditions, or privileges of sale or rental of a dwelling, or in the provision of services or facilities, therewith, because of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or national origin. This FHA law applies to condominium associations and Association’s communal pool is a “facility associated with a dwelling” within the meaning of the statute. The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of Association after concluding that Association’s gender-segregated pool schedule applied equally to men and women. The plaintiffs then appealed.

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