Friday, June 04, 2021

Reading list: Discrimination is Unfair: Interpreting UDA(A)P to Prohibit Discrimination

Stephen Hayes & Kali Schellenberg, Discrimination is "Unfair": Interpreting UDA(A)P to Prohibit Discrimination

This Article explores a theory that discrimination is a type of “unfair” practice covered by federal and state laws prohibiting unfair, deceptive (and sometimes abusive) acts and practices (“UDA(A)Ps”). An “unfair” practice is defined by statute as something “(1) likely to cause substantial injury to consumers; (2) which is not reasonably avoidable; and (3) that is not outweighed by countervailing benefits to consumers or competition.” Discrimination fits neatly within this statutory language, and its incorporation as an unfair practice is consistent with the purposes and traditional guardrails around application of UDA(A)P law, as well as general principles in civil rights jurisprudence


Applying the “unfairness-discrimination” theory would fill important gaps in the existing patchwork of antidiscrimination laws, which currently leave large swaths of the economy unregulated and unprotected from a variety of discriminatory practices, including those with a disparate impact. By taking seriously the plain language of UDA(A)P law, federal entities like the CFPB and FTC, state attorneys general and agencies, and in some cases private individuals, could make great strides towards ensuring that entire markets and industries are not free to discriminate.

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