The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that it has settled with Utah-based Mountain America Credit Union allegations of discrimination against prospective borrowers on maternity leave. Mountain American Credit Union is the second largest credit union in Utah and the 35th largest credit union in the United States.
Mountain America will pay $25,000 to settle the matter with HUD.
HUD noted in a release, "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."
An investigation was carried out stemming from 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," HUD said.
"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 Conciliation Agreement, Mountain America will pay $10,000 to an affected borrower found during the HUD investigation. Additionally, the credit union will pay $15,000 to a qualified organization to help educate the public on fair lending requirements—including the rights of borrowers on maternity, paternity, pregnancy, or parental leave at the time of an application for a mortgage loan.
HUD noted, "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."