The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced that mortgage lender Greenlight Financial Services will pay $48,000 to settle allegations that it violated the Fair Housing Act when it denied or delayed mortgage loans to women because they were on maternity leave.
The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful to discriminate in the terms, conditions, or privileges associated with the sale or rental of a dwelling on the basis sex, including denying a mortgage loan or mortgage insurance because a woman is pregnant or on family leave.
The Conciliation Agreement resolves a complaint a married couple filed with HUD alleging that Greenlight Financial Services, now called GFS Capital Holdings, denied their application to refinance their home mortgage because the wife was on maternity leave. HUD’s investigation found that Greenlight Financial Services also allegedly denied four other applicants who were on maternity leave, or delayed their applications until after the women returned to work.
“The fact that an applicant is on maternity leave alone is not a valid basis for denying or delaying a refinance loan,” 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 otherwise qualified applicant is illegally denied the home financing they need only because they take maternity, paternity or parental leave.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Greenlight Financial Services will pay $20,000 to the couple that filed the complaint, and $7,000 to each of the other four applicants HUD identified during its investigation. The company will also provide annual fair lending training to employees and management staff should the lender resume its mortgage operation, a service it no longer provides.