Mortgage company to pay $1.5 million to settle with DOJ

Graphic of housing with brightly colored houses
Fair housing settlement

The Department of Justice and Fifth Third Mortgage Bancorp Inc. reached an agreement August 7, requiring the mortgage company to pay $1.5 million to resolve a disability discrimination complaint.

As part of its practice, Fifth Third required mortgage loan applicants to provide a letter from their doctor, documenting the income they received from Social Security Disability Insurance.

In 2010, a couple from Macon, Georgia filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, arguing that the practice violated the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, both of which expressly prohibit disability discrimination. HUD subsequently forwarded the case to the DOJ.

In addition to having to create a settlement fund for mortgage applicants, the company must also provide training to its employees to ensure that mortgage applicants aren’t ask to provide unnecessary medical information that will reduce their chance of obtaining a loan, as well as violating their privacy rights.

“A person’s medical information is often some of the most personal information in and about their life,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore for the Middle District of Georgia in a news release.

The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia must still approve the settlement.

“Today’s announcement holds lending institutions accountable for their actions, and is a reminder that every American has the right to apply for a home loan and live in the community of their choice,” said Gustavo Velazquez, assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity with HUD, in the news release.