So. Car. Human Affairs Commission v. YangAnnotate this Case
The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (the Commission) brought this action against respondents Zeyi Chen and Zhirong Yang, alleging they violated the South Carolina Fair Housing Law by discriminating against a prospective tenant. The action was based on a complaint received from Stacy Woods, who reported that she responded to an ad on Craigslist for a rental residence in Mount Pleasant and was told it was not available. Woods maintained she was refused the rental property because she had a four-year-old daughter. The Commission appealed circuit court orders:(1) denying the Commission's motion pursuant to Rule 43(k), SCRCP to enforce the parties' settlement agreement; (2) finding certain information was obtained by the Commission during the conciliation process and was, therefore, subject to orders of protection and inadmissible under S.C. Code Ann. section 31-21-120(A) (2007) of the Fair Housing Law; and (3) ultimately dismissing the Commission's action based on a finding section 31-21-120(A) was unconstitutional and the entire statute was void. After review, the South Carolina Supreme Court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded. The Court found the requirements of Rule 43(k) clearly were not met, for the reasons found by the circuit court. Consequently, the circuit court's order denying the Commission's motion to compel enforcement of the settlement agreement was affirmed. The Commission contended the circuit court declined to give adequate consideration to comparable federal law to aid its decision and gave no deference to the Commission's interpretation. To this, the Supreme Court agreed and reversed the circuit court as to orders of protection related to conciliation efforts. Further, the Supreme Court concurred with the Commission the circuit court erred in dismissing claims against Respondents pursuant to section 31-21-120(A) as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court held Respondents did not meet their "heavy burden" of proving the statute was unconstitutionally vague.