|HUD No. 12-066
April 5, 2012
HUD ANNOUNCES 'MATERNITY DISCRIMINATION SETTLEMENTS,' KICKS OFF FAIR HOUSING MONTH
Agreements in TN and CA settle complaints brought by expectant mothers
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has reached settlement agreements with Magna Bank in Nashville, TN, and Home Loan Center, Inc., in Irvine, CA, resolving allegations that the two lenders denied mortgage loans to women because they were pregnant and temporarily on maternity leave. HUD is announcing the discrimination settlements as part of its annual Fair Housing Month commemoration kick-off.
The Fair Housing Act, which was enacted into law 44 years ago this month, prohibits housing discrimination in lending, sales, and rental transactions based on a person's sex or family status. The Fair Housing Act also prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, and disability.
"It is against the law for any lender to deny a mortgage loan to a woman because she is pregnant or on paid maternity leave," said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "Women shouldn't have to choose between buying or refinancing a home and exercising their right to have a family. HUD will take appropriate action anytime we determine that discrimination has occurred."
The settlement agreement signed by Magna Bank requires the bank to pay one woman $14,085 for allegedly requiring her to return to work before her loan application could be approved. In another settlement agreement, Home Loan Center, Inc., agreed to pay a Las Vegas woman $15,000 for denying her application to refinance her mortgage because she was on maternity leave.
Fair Housing Month, celebrated each April, was created to commemorate the enactment of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act became law one week after the April 4 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and prohibited discrimination based on race, color, national origin, and religion. In 1974 the Act was expanded to include discrimination based on gender. And in 1988 the Act was expanded to cover persons with disabilities and discrimination based on family status, including a woman's maternity status.
HUD held a wreath-laying ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the National Mall on April 4 to kick off its annual Fair Housing Month celebration. This year's Fair Housing Month theme is "Creating Equal Opportunity in Every Community." The theme reflects HUD's commitment to working with its fair housing partners to create communities of opportunity for all and to protect the right of everyone to live where they choose, free from discrimination.
Throughout the month of April, television and print public service announcements focusing on discrimination against women on maternity leave, families with children, and veterans with disabilities will run on television stations and in magazines across the country. On April 11, HUD will conduct a National Fair Housing Outreach Day to educate teachers and families with school-age children about their rights under the Fair Housing Act. For a complete listing of Fair Housing Month activities, go to HUD's Web site: www.hud.gov/fairhousing.
HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD is working to strengthen the housing market to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes: utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination; and transform the way HUD does business. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and http://espanol.hud.gov. You can also follow HUD on twitter @HUDgov, on facebook at www.facebook.com/HUD, or sign up for news alerts on HUD's News Listserv.