WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced on Tuesday that it has signed a Conciliation Agreement with Bank of America, N.A., and one of its loan officers to resolve allegations of familial status and sex discrimination under the Fair Housing Act. Bank of America and the loan officer allegedly refused to approve a residential mortgage for a couple until after one of the applicants returned to work from maternity leave. Read the agreement.
Under the Fair Housing Act, it is unlawful to discriminate in making loans for the purchase or refinance of residential real estate because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status. This includes refusing to provide a mortgage to a person on parental leave.
“Buying a new home for your expanding family should be a joyous occasion,” said Demetria L. McCain, HUD’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The nation’s fair housing laws prohibit lenders from denying home loans to families with children because a parent is on parental leave. We’re glad this matter has been conciliated in a way that hopefully addresses at least some of the family’s concerns. HUD remains committed to ensuring mortgage providers meet their fair lending obligations.”
The case came to HUD’s attention when a married couple with a newborn child filed a complaint alleging that Bank of America, N.A., would not approve the couple’s home loan application until the wife returned to work from maternity leave, even though her employer was paying her 80% of her salary during her maternity leave.
Under the Agreement, Bank of America will pay $15,000 to the couple; adhere to a policy wherein applicants on temporary leave, including parental leave, can be approved for a mortgage prior to returning to active work status; and provide fair lending training to employees in lending-related roles. This conciliation agreement does not constitute an admission by Bank of America or the loan officer or evidence of a finding by HUD of a violation of the Fair Housing Act.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).