|HUD No. 16-116
July 29, 2016
HUD APPROVES AGREEMENT REQUIRING CITIZENS BANK/CITIZENS BANK OF PENNSYLVANIA TO PAY $115,000 FOR ALLEGEDLY DENYING LOAN TO WOMAN ON MATERNITY LEAVE
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that it has reached a Conciliation Agreement with Philadelphia-based Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania and Providence, Rhode Island-based Citizens Bank, collectively known as Citizens Bank, settling allegations that the bank violated the Fair Housing Act when it told a female applicant that she would need to return to work before her application for a home equity line of credit could be approved.
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 of familial status, including denying a mortgage loan or mortgage insurance because a woman is pregnant or on family leave.
"The fact that a woman is on maternity leave should never be the sole reason that she is denied a loan," said Gustavo Velasquez, HUD's Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "HUD is committed to continuing to enforce fair housing laws and to ensuring that lenders understand their responsibility to treat all qualified applicants the same, even those that are on parental leave."
The case came to HUD's attention when a woman filed a complaint alleging that Citizens Bank discriminated against her based on her familial status when it delayed the processing of her loan application because she was on maternity leave, despite the fact that she was receiving her full pay.
Under the terms of the agreement, Citizens Bank will pay the woman $40,000, provide fair housing training to its staff, and adopt a parental leave policy making it clear that all loan products are to be made available, regardless of an applicant's parental status. Citizens Bank will also make a $75,000 donation to a HUD-approved fair housing or advocacy organization. Read the agreement with Citizens Bank.
People who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY). Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed at www.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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