Consumer Finance Insights
January 20, 2016

DOJ Settles Disability Income Discrimination Claims Against National Bank


On January 19, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it had reached a settlement with a national bank over allegations that the bank discriminated against mortgage loan applicants who had disabilities or received public assistance.  The DOJ alleged in its simultaneously filed complaint that the bank violated the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601-3619, and Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. §§ 1691-1691f, in requiring some loan applicants with disabilities to document the continued receipt of disability-related public assistance income by providing a letter from a doctor, even though the bank allegedly did not require applicants with wage or salary income to document the continuation of their income.  The complaint further alleged that the bank would deny loan applications when disabled applicants did not provide, or were unable to provide, this documentation.  The consent order, which must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee, requires the bank to adopt and publish new policies regarding documentation of disability income when underwriting mortgage loans, provide training to employees on equal credit opportunity, and establish an $86,000 settlement fund to compensate affected consumers.