The Housing and Urban Development department and Wescom Credit Union have resolved allegations the company denied a Santa Ana couple’s mortgage loan application because the wife was on maternity leave.
The couple’s name was redacted from the HUD agreement.
The agreement requires the Pasadena-based credit union refinance the couple’s existing mortgage at a lower rate and create a $50,000 compensation fund for applicants who were similarly denied loans or withdrew mortgage applications from Wescom during 2015.
Refusing to provide a mortgage loan or 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 discrimination against individuals who have or are expecting a child.
HUD in a statement said it has received nearly 150 complaints alleging maternity leave discrimination and has obtained more than $8 million in compensation for victims.
“An otherwise qualified borrower should not have their mortgage loan denied or delayed just because they’re having a baby,” said Bryan Greene, HUD’s general deputy assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
The agreement announced Wednesday stems from a complaint that a married couple from Santa Ana filed with HUD. The couple alleged Wescom unfairly denied their mortgage loan and the lender requested the woman return to work and provide a current pay stub before they would approve the loan application.
Wescom denied they were engaged in any of the discriminatory acts alleged in the complaint, according to HUD. The agreement between Wescom and HUD was signed by Charles Thomas, senior vice president of lending at Wescom.
Other terms of the agreement Wescom include:
— Ensure its lending policies regarding parental leave comply with the Fair Housing Act;
— Provide fair lending training to its employees; and
— Send a notice to its employees regarding its parental leave lending policies.
Anyone who believes they have experienced discrimination can file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at 800-669-9777 or 800-927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to hud.gov/fairhousing, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple and Android devices.
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