As I have written in this space many times before, sex and familial status discrimination are prohibited under the Fair Housing Act (FHA). Sex and familial status discrimination include denying or delaying housing related services (such as an apartment or a loan) to a woman because she is on maternity leave. HUD has reported that since 2010 it has received dozens of complaints (typically against lenders) who allegedly deny families mortgages because the wife was pregnant or on maternity leave.
The issue can potentially arise when a housing provider or bank singles out a pregnant woman for different treatment by assuming that either the woman is not being paid while out on maternity leave, that she will not have a job to go back to, or she will not want to return to work.
HUD’s view is that housing providers and lenders cannot use parental leave to form the basis for rejection if the borrower demonstrates that she intends to return to work or otherwise has enough income to qualify for the loan or apartment.
Several lenders have settled discrimination complaints in circumstances where a pregnancy or maternity leave was involved. Housing providers similarly need to ensure we do not ask improper questions such as “When are you going to have a baby?” or when evaluating housing applications.
If an apartment owner or management company has specific questions about what to ask (or not ask), let me know.
Just A Thought.