Quarterly report pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d)

Commitments and Contingencies

v3.22.2
Commitments and Contingencies
6 Months Ended
Jun. 30, 2022
Commitments and Contingencies Disclosure [Abstract]  
Commitments and Contingencies Commitments and Contingencies
Legal Proceedings

Below is a discussion of our material, pending legal proceedings. We cannot estimate a range of reasonably possible losses given the preliminary stage of these proceedings and the claims and issues presented. In addition to the matters discussed below, from time to time, we are involved in litigation, claims, and other proceedings arising in the ordinary course of our business. Except for the matters discussed below, we do not believe that any of our pending litigation, claims, and other proceedings are material to our business.

Lawsuit by David Eraker—On May 11, 2020, David Eraker, our co-founder and former chief executive officer who departed Redfin in 2006, filed a complaint through Appliance Computing III, Inc. (d/b/a Surefield) ("Surefield"), which is a company that Mr. Eraker founded and that we believe he controls, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Waco Division. The complaint alleged that we were infringing four patents claimed to be owned by Surefield without its authorization or license. Surefield sought an unspecified amount of damages and an injunction against us offering products and services that allegedly infringe the patents at issue. On May 17, 2022, the jury returned a verdict in our favor, finding that we did not infringe any of the asserted claims of the patents claimed to be owned by Surefield, and accordingly, we do not owe any damages to Surefield. The jury also found that all asserted claims of Surefield’s claimed patents were invalid.
Lawsuit Alleging Violations of the Fair Housing Act—On October 28, 2020, a group of ten organizations filed a complaint against us in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The organizations are the National Fair Housing Alliance, the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit, the Fair Housing Justice Center, the Fair Housing Rights Center in Southeastern Pennsylvania, the HOPE Fair Housing Center, the Lexington Fair Housing Council, the Long Island Housing Services, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, Open Communities, and the South Suburban Housing Center. The complaint alleged that certain of our business policies and practices violate certain provisions of the Fair Housing Act (the “FHA”). The plaintiffs alleged that these policies and practices (i) have the effect of our services being unavailable in predominantly non-white communities on a more frequent basis than predominantly white communities and (ii) are unnecessary to achieve a valid interest or legitimate objective. The complaint focused on the following policies and practices, as alleged by the plaintiffs: (i) a home's price must exceed a certain dollar amount before we offer service through one of our lead agents or partner agents and (ii) our services and pricing structures are available only for homes serviced by one of our lead agents and those same services and pricing structures may not be offered by one of our partner agents. The plaintiffs sought (i) a declaration that our alleged policies and practices violate the FHA, (ii) an order enjoining us from further alleged violations, (iii) an unspecified amount of monetary damages, and (iv) payment of plaintiffs’ attorneys' fees and costs.

On April 29, 2022, we settled this lawsuit. As part of the settlement, we paid an aggregate of $3,000 to the ten organizations on May 25, 2022 and will pay an additional aggregate of $1,000 to the ten organizations by April 29, 2023. The latter payment will be dedicated to fund programs devoted to expanding home ownership opportunities. In addition to the financial payments, we also agreed to certain changes to our business practices, including expanding our brokerage services to lower-priced homes in certain markets, designating a fair housing compliance officer, revamping our fair housing training, and expanding our diversity recruiting efforts.

Lawsuits Alleging Misclassification—On August 28, 2019, Devin Cook, who was one of our former independent contractor licensed sales associates, whom we call associate agents, filed a complaint against us in the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco. The plaintiff initially pled the complaint as a class action and alleged that we misclassified her as an independent contractor instead of an employee. The plaintiff also sought unspecified penalties pursuant to representative claims under California’s Private Attorney General Act ("PAGA"). On January 30, 2020, the plaintiff filed a first amended complaint dismissing her class action claim and asserting only claims under PAGA.

On November 20, 2020, Jason Bell, who was one of our former lead agents as well as a former associate agent, filed a complaint against us in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The complaint was pled as a class action and alleges that, (1) during the time he served as an associate agent, we misclassified him as an independent contractor instead of an employee and (2) during the time he served as a lead agent, we misclassified him as an employee who was exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws. The plaintiff also asserted representative claims under PAGA. The plaintiff sought unspecified amounts of unpaid overtime wages, regular wages, meal and rest period compensation, waiting time and other penalties, injunctive and other equitable relief, and plaintiff's attorneys' fees and costs.

On May 23, 2022, pursuant to a combined mediation, we settled the lawsuits brought by Ms. Cook and Mr. Bell for an aggregate of $3,000. This amount is subject to adjustment if our actual number of associate agents, lead agents, or their respective workweeks differs from the number that we represented to the plaintiffs. This settlement is subject to each court’s approval.

On March 24, 2021, Anthony Bush, who is one our former lead agents as well as a former associate agent, filed a complaint against us in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda. The original complaint alleges that, during the time he served as an associate agent, we misclassified him as an independent contractor instead of an employee. The plaintiff also asserts representative claims under PAGA. The plaintiff is seeking unspecified amounts of unpaid overtime wages, regular wages, meal and rest period compensation, penalties, injunctive, and other equitable relief, and plaintiff's attorneys' fees and costs. On September 27, 2021, the court granted our motion to stay the plaintiff’s action pending resolution of the PAGA claims brought against us by Devin Cook described above. The plaintiff subsequently filed an arbitration demand. In arbitration, the plaintiff alleges that (i) during the time he served as an associate agent, we misclassified him as an independent contractor instead of an employee and (ii) during the time he served as a lead agent, we misclassified him as an exempt employee.
Other Commitments

Our title and settlement business and our mortgage business each holds cash in escrow at third-party financial institutions on behalf of homebuyers and home sellers. As of June 30, 2022, we held $30,879 in escrow and did not record this amount on our consolidated balance sheets. We may be held contingently liable for the disposition of the cash we hold in escrow. See Note 5 for our commitments related to inventory under contract but not closed.