PNC Mortgage has settled a suit brought by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for alleged discrimination.  The suit charges that the Trumbull, Connecticut company violated the Fair Housing Act by requiring a mortgage applicant who was on paid maternity leave to return to work before it would approve her loan.   

The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability.  HUD said that refusing to approve a mortgage loan because a woman is pregnant or on maternity leave violates the Fair Housing Act's prohibitions against sex and familial status discrimination.

According to John Trasviña, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing & Equal Opportunity, HUD has been investigating lenders who have allegedly required women to terminate their maternity leave early in order to qualify for a home loan since 2010.  HUD settled similar cases with Bank of America and Mortgage Guarantee Insurance Corp in the summer of 2012. 

In the PNC case HUD said that the mortgage company required the woman, a Navy veteran, to return to work before approving the Department of Veterans Affairs-guaranteed loan.  Consequently the couple could not close on their new home in Newington, CT, until a month later than they had planned.  Because of the delay, the seller of the home allegedly required the couple to pay an additional $3,000. 

Under the Agreement, PNC will pay $15,000 to the couple and review applications for VA-guaranteed residential mortgage loans filed in the last two years in the six New England states, Pennsylvania, and New York to identify qualified loan seekers whose applications were denied because they were pregnant or on maternity leave.  PNC will pay $7,500 each victim who is identified, revise its Temporary Leave/Short-Term Disability Income policy if HUD finds that the policy is deficient, and will provide fair lending training to its residential mortgage loan originators, underwriters, and processors.

HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity and its partners in the Fair Housing Assistance Program investigate almost 10,000 housing discrimination complaints each year.