42 U.S.C. § 1982 provides that all citizens of the United States shall have the same right in every state and territory as is enjoyed by white citizens of such state and territory to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, and convey real and personal property. § 1982 bars all racial discrimination, private as well as public, in the sale or rental of property. 42 U.S.C. § 1982 applies only to racial discrimination, and not to discrimination based on religion or national origin. For example, the denial of membership in a recreational club on the basis of race violates 42 U.S.C. § 1982.
An action under 42 U.S.C. § 1982 is to be brought in a federal District Court. Thus, a defendant in an action in a state court who asserts rights under § 1982 can have the case removed to a federal District Court. Since 42 U.S.C. § 1982 makes no provision for a statute of limitations, the limitations period applicable to an action brought under § 1982 is found in the state statute of limitations.
A person need not belong to a protected class to sue under 42 U.S.C. § 1982. Any person who is a victim of racial discrimination relating to property rights is entitled to sue under 42 U.S.C. § 1982. White persons also have standing to maintain an action under § 1982. However, they must be the victims of discrimination. Injury suffered by white persons in the form of loss of benefits which would arise from living in a racially integrated community is sufficient to confer standing to sue on such persons. For example, when a white tenant is evicted, or threatened with eviction, because s/he entertained black guests, s/he will have standing to maintain an action under § 1982
A plaintiff may bring an action under the statute to remedy private as well as public racial discrimination in the sale or rental of property. Class actions can also be brought under 42 U.S.C. § 1982. However, the plaintiffs of the class action must allege and show that they personally have been injured.
A plaintiff in a 42 U.S.C. § 1982 action may be awarded general or compensatory damages for humiliation and embarrassment, and for emotional and mental anguish. The plaintiff may also be awarded special damages, that is, damages for actual monetary loss occasioned by acts of discrimination, as well as punitive damages. Successful plaintiffs in a § 1982 actions may also be awarded the costs of the litigation.