The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) has announced that Utah-based Mountain America Credit Union, the second largest credit union in Utah and the 35th largest credit union in the United States, will pay $25,000 to settle allegations that the company discriminated against prospective borrowers on maternity leave.
Refusing to approve a mortgage loan or provide mortgage insurance because a woman is pregnant or on family leave violates the Fair Housing Act’s prohibition against sex and familial status discrimination, which includes individuals who have or are expecting a child.
The Conciliation Agreement is the result of a complaint HUD initiated on behalf of the public interest after investigating the allegations of a married couple who claimed their mortgage loan application was wrongly denied because the wife was on maternity leave.
Mountain America claimed that its mortgage insurer’s guidelines for calculating income for women on maternity leave allowed regular pay to be considered only if the women returned to work before the loan closed.
“The birth of a child, a joyous event for a family, should not become the basis for denying that family a home mortgage,” said Bryan Greene, HUD’s General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “HUD will continue to enforce fair housing laws to ensure that no family is denied the opportunity to buy a home because of maternity, paternity, or pregnancy leave.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Mountain America will pay $10,000 to an affected borrower identified during HUD’s investigation, and $15,000 to a qualified organization to help educate the public about fair lending requirements and obligations, including the rights of borrowers on maternity, paternity, pregnancy, or parental leave at the time of an application for a home mortgage loan. Mountain America will also adopt a parental leave policy consistent with the Fair Housing Act with regard to calculation and treatment of maternity, paternity, and pregnancy leave income, and identify when employment income may be used based upon the timing of a scheduled return to work date. Mountain America will conduct training on the new policy and its application for its employees. The married couple who brought the case to HUD’s attention settled their complaint in 2013.