Is It Legal to Discriminate Based on Zodiac Signs?

Astrology has become increasingly popular over the last few years, especially among young people. This might not seem relevant to the rental housing industry, but zodiac discrimination has become more common than one might think. The question is, is it legal?

Close up happy young woman hugging man, holding keys

Zodiac discrimination first became publicized a couple of years ago, when a New York applicant was denied to be another resident’s roommate because their zodiac sign was Capricorn. The message the applicant received stated, “Our main goal is to keep things egalitarian, without anyone being ‘in charge’ or domming the household. I love Capricorns but I don’t think I could live with one.” Another example: A Los Angeles YouTube influencer complained about her apartment search after a property required her to include her zodiac sign on an application to get pre-approved.

Since rental applications include birth date information, finding out someone’s zodiac sign is easy. And unfortunately for the applicant, they may have no idea whether the information is being used to discover their sign—or if their sign will somehow disqualify them.

Is It Legal? Experts Weigh In

Many have claimed that zodiac discrimination is unquestionably housing discrimination, but it’s unclear if it’s actually considered discrimination by law. The Fair Housing Act prevents discrimination due to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability, but there’s no explicit mention of zodiac signs. The closest protected class would be religion. However, since astrology isn’t a religion, claims of religious discrimination would be very difficult to prove.

According to David Levine, a professor who teaches civil procedure law at the University of California Hastings College of Law, the argument of discrimination is a tenuous one at the federal level. “In order for this to be legally considered discrimination, you have to fall within a protected category. Otherwise, you can choose to create a housing contract for any reason you want,” he said.

However, many states have additional fair housing protections, such as prohibiting discrimination based on medical conditions, genetic information, marital status, or sexual orientation. For example, California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act prohibits “all arbitrary and intentional discrimination by a business establishment.

Under this law, denying someone a rental because of their zodiac sign would be illegal, according to Caroline Pettie, the executive director at Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California. “This is not a legitimate basis for turning someone down. It has nothing to do with their ability to pay rent or be a good tenant,” she said.

Discrimination of Any Kind is Best to Avoid

Regardless of whether it’s legal to deny an applicant based on their zodiac sign, discrimination of any kind is best to avoid. Although there may not be laws against it (yet), you don’t want to end up in a potential discrimination lawsuit—plus, if the suit became publicized or went viral on social media, it could severely hurt your reputation as a landlord. Stick to basing your rental decisions on objective data from tenant screening reports, rather than looking to the stars.

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