WASHINGTON — Bank of America settled an enforcement action with the Department of Housing and Urban Development over claims of marital status and sexual orientation discrimination in Florida, the agency announced today.
The settlement is the first enforcement action taken against a lender under a HUD rule that went into effect in 2012 that prohibits sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status discrimination in a variety of federal housing programs, including the Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage involved in the Bank of America enforcement action.
According to the settlement, Bank of America allegedly denied a loan to a Florida couple seeking to obtain an FHA-insured mortgage because of their sexual orientation and marital status. From the news release announcing the settlement:
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.
An enforcement action was brought, and HUD officials said Wednesday that Bank of America took "immediate corrective action" when informed about the action.
"This agreement demonstrates that HUD will vigorously enforce its Equal Access rule and pursue lenders that discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status. By the same token, BOA should be commended for stepping up and taking immediate corrective action after HUD notified BOA of the violation," said Helen Kanovsky, HUD’s general counsel.
The bank also agreed, according to the settlement, to update its training manual:
Chris Geidner is a Supreme Court correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
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