On July 29, 2016, HUD announced a Conciliation Agreement with Citizens Bank/Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania (“Citizens Bank”), settling allegations that Citizens Bank discriminated against a loan applicant because she was on maternity leave. The complainant alleged she was told she would not qualify for a home equity line of credit until she returned to work. Although Citizens Bank agreed to the terms of the Conciliation Agreement, it denied any wrongdoing.
As part of the Conciliation Agreement, Citizens Bank will pay the complainant $40,000, and will make a $75,000 donation to a HUD-approved fair housing or advocacy organization. The bank will also provide its employees with training on fair housing, and will implement the “Parental Leave Policy” that is attached to the Conciliation Agreement.
The Parental Leave Policy outlines the procedure Citizens Bank must follow when qualifying a loan applicant on parental leave. Among other things, it states that “[i]t is the lender’s policy not to originate a mortgage loan application with an investor that requires an otherwise qualified applicant . . . on parental leave to return to active employment before an application will be approved or before an approved application will be funded.”
The Conciliation Agreement and Parental Leave Policy can be accessed here: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=CA_FHEOCase03-15-0471-8.pdf.