By Chris Bruce
July 29 — Federal housing regulators July 29 said they approved an agreement that resolves allegations of lending bias by Philadelphia- and Rhode Island-based units of Citizens Bank.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development said Citizens will pay a total of $115,000 to settle claims that it violated the Fair Housing Act by telling a female credit applicant that her application for a home equity line of credit would not be approved until she returned to work.
The unnamed applicant alleged familial status discrimination, saying the bank held up her loan application because she was on maternity leave, even though she was still receiving her full pay.
Under the accord, Citizens Bank will pay the applicant $40,000, provide fair housing training to its staff, adopt new policy changes, and contribute $75,000 to a HUD-approved consumer advocacy organization.
“HUD is committed to continuing to enforce fair housing laws and to ensuring that lenders understand their responsibility to treat all qualified applicants the same, even those that are on parental leave,” HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Gustavo Velasquez said in a July 29 release.
Lauren DiGeronimo, a spokeswoman for the parent company Citizens Financial Group, declined to comment July 29.
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