The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that an Irvine-based mortgage lender will pay $48,000 to settle allegations it violated the Fair Housing Act by denying or delaying mortgages to women on maternity leave.
The investigation of Greenlight Financial Services began after a married couple filed a complaint with HUD alleging the company denied their application to refinance their home mortgage because the wife was on maternity leave. The HUD probe would uncover four other applicants who were on maternity leave when their loan requests were either denied or delayed until after the women returned to work.
"The fact that an applicant is on maternity leave alone is not a valid basis for denying or delaying a refinance loan," explains Bryan Greene, HUD's general deputy assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "HUD will continue to enforce fair housing laws to ensure that no otherwise qualified applicant is illegally denied the home financing they need only because they take maternity, paternity or parental leave."
The agreement has Greenlight, uh, greenlighting a $20,000 payment to the couple that filed the original complaint and $7,000 each to the other four applicants.
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Now here is where this story gets weird (or typical, when it comes to such businesses). Greenlight Financial Services Inc. was started in Irvine in 2001. As this HUD investigation was under way, the Greenlight Financial name was sold in 2013 to Nationstar Mortgage Holdings, Inc. of Lewisville, Texas, which now does business, including mortgages and re-fi's, as Greenlight Loans.
The original Irvine company is now known as GFS Capital Holdings and is based in New York. It's no longer in the home mortgage business but should that change, the company must provide annual fair lending training to management and staff, according to the agreement with HUD.
Anyone who believes they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by calling HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 or visiting www.hud.gov/fairhousing or by downloading HUD's free housing discrimination mobile application, which can be accessed through Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.