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Banks Deny New Moms Mortgages

Do Banks Discriminate Against Pregnant Women?

Did someone invent a time machine and transport us to the 1840s? No. So why are some banks in the US still discriminating against women? Several settlements have been brought up against banks, including PNC Mortgage, MGIC, and Bank of America, claiming the companies delay or deny loans for pregnant women. Both the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development have been brought in to handle the cases, and they have awarded more than $510,000 in compensation funds to the victims.

In the most recent settlement, a Utah couple was denied a loan at Mountain America Credit Union and told to reapply "only when the wife returned to work and received a paycheck." But the banks believe their actions are justified, even though they violate the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits unequal treatment based on gender or familial status. The Los Angeles Times explained it this way:

"When a borrower or co-borrower is on maternity leave or expected to be on leave, mortgage companies assume that the household income may decline for an extended period, or the woman may not return to the same employment and salary, thereby increasing the risk of delinquency or default."

The banks may see this as a way to save their own butts, but at the end of the day, it is an outdated practice based on equally outdated assumptions. Mainly, that a woman will end her career when a baby comes along.

"It's ridiculous," Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of the advocacy group MomsRising, told the paper. "Three-quarters of moms are working, many of them at more than one job, because they know the income they earn is essential."

Perhaps it's time these banks take note and return to the modern age.

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