The Bank of America has agreed to settle a claim brought by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on behalf of a lesbian couple that was denied financing for a home mortgage. Last year, HUD implemented sweeping nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status, and this settlement marks the first implementation of that new policy. Helen Kanovsky, HUD’s General Counsel, commended Bank of America for “stepping up and taking immediate correction action” after being notified of the violation.
Here is how HUD describes what took place:
HUD claimed BOA denied a loan to a Florida couple seeking to obtain an FHA-insured mortgage because of their sexual orientation and marital status. Because one partner was not employed, the applicant enlisted her partner’s mother as a co-applicant on the loan. The couple worked with BOA for several weeks to provide all of the necessary loan application documents and the couple was assured by BOA that they were likely to receive a mortgage. One business day prior to closing, BOA denied the mortgage because it did not consider the loan applicant and the co-applicant directly related because the applicant and her partner were not married. As a result of BOA’s actions, the couple was not able to close on the loan.
Under the terms of the agreement, BOA agrees to pay HUD $7,500 and to notify its residential mortgage loan originators, processors and underwriters of its Settlement Agreement with HUD. In addition, BOA will remind its employees that they are prohibited from discriminating against FHA-loan applicants on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. BOA will also update its fair lending training program to include information on HUD’s rule.
The settlement is an important victory for the well-being of the LGBT community, but also a reminder that discrimination still persists in society.