On July 29, 2016 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced 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 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.
We reported the first HUD familial status discrimination case involving a pregnant woman on August 21, 2011, almost five years ago. The second case was in November 2011. We have continued to several additional cases in every year since then. The cases are absolutely “cookie cutter” cases. It is the same sad story every time. When are bankers going to learn they cannot get away with this totally preventable violation.
Following is a quote from our November 2011 blog article. ” This action (the November 2011 case) coupled with a recent case involving a Houston-based lender (August 2011 case) puts the spotlight on the issue of familial status discrimination. One case is an aberration, two cases is the start of a trend, more cases may justify panic.” There has been a string of additional cases, but no panic so far.