HUD, Suntrust settle maternity leave discrimination claims
Bank to pay two couples who were denied loans
5/14/2013, 3:22 p.m.
RICHMOND The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has reached two Conciliation Agreements with SunTrust Mortgage, Inc., settling allegations that the Richmond, VA-based lender denied mortgage loans to a couple in Port St. Lucie, FL, and another couple in Ashland, VA, because the women were on maternity leave.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in residential real estate-related transactions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or familial status. These prohibitions include denying a mortgage because a person is pregnant or takes maternity or paternity leave.
“A woman’s maternity status should not determine whether or not she receives a mortgage loan,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “The Fair Housing Act prohibits lenders from denying home loans to women because they are pregnant or on maternity leave and HUD is committed to taking action against lenders engaged in discriminatory practices.”
A Port St. Lucie, FL, woman and her husband alleged that SunTrust had pre-approved them for a mortgage loan, but 14 days before closing, a loan officer informed them that the loan would not be approved unless she returned to work.
In the Ashland, VA, case, a couple alleged that the bank had provided a construction-to-permanent mortgage loan but delayed its conversion to a permanent loan until after the woman returned from maternity leave. The Fair Housing Act requires lenders to provide full and fair access to home mortgages regardless of a person’s sex or familial status, including pregnancy.
Under the terms of the agreements, SunTrust will pay each couple $18,000, adopt a parental leave policy that prohibits discriminatory mortgage lending due to parental leave, and train their employees on the fair lending requirements of the Fair Housing Act. The Parental Leave Policy specifically prohibits asking mortgage applicants about their intent to take parental leave in the future. The policy also provides that mortgage applicants on or scheduled to be on parental leave may still qualify for loan approval and funding.
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). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to www.hud.gov/fairhousing http://www.hud.gov/fairhousing , or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.