Bank Of America Accused Of Disability Discrimination
One of the nation’s largest banks has reached a settlement with the federal government over allegations that it discriminated against people with disabilities under guardianships.
Bank of America maintained written policies barring adults with disabilities who were under legal guardianships or conservatorships from obtaining mortgages or home equity loans, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The practices, which began in 2010 and lasted until the bank changed its mortgage policy in 2016 and its home equity loan policy in 2017, violate the Fair Housing Act, the Justice Department said.
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Under the recently reached settlement, Bank of America will pay $4,000 per loan to any eligible applicant who was impacted by the discriminatory policies. The bank is expected to shell out about $300,000 in payments.
In addition, Bank of America has agreed to maintain the new, non-discriminatory policies and train its employees on them. And, the bank is required to monitor its loan processing and underwriting to make sure that it is complying with the Fair Housing Act.
“No one in this free country should be denied access to the American dream merely because of a disability,” said Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The Fair Housing Act prohibits banks from denying mortgage loans and other housing-related credit to people because of their disabilities, and this department will hold accountable those lenders who engage in such illegal conduct.”
Bank of America asserts in the settlement that it did not discriminate against anyone because of a disability and that it did extend mortgages to people with legal guardianships or conservatorships during the time in question. The bank said the policies were implemented after the financial crisis “for the purpose of protecting at-risk applicants from financial exploitation” and were voluntarily changed.