A mortgage lender based in Utah has agreed to pay a Baltimore woman $13,000 for denying her a loan because she was pregnant and on maternity leave, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Tuesday.

Primary Residential Mortgage Inc., based in Salt Lake City, also agreed to adopt a parental leave policy, to ensure its employees are complying with family status provisions of the Fair Housing Act, which prevents lending discrimination based on other applicant traits including sex, race and religion.

The woman, who has not been named, applied for a loan from PRMI and was told by a loan officer that she was a "good risk," according to HUD, but that the company would only finance her loan once she returned to work. She later received a loan from another lender.

"Lenders have many legitimate business related reasons to deny a mortgage loan, but a woman's maternity status is not one of them," said John Trasvina, HUD assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity, in a statement. "HUD will continue to take action against lenders who refuse to make loans to otherwise qualified women merely because they are pregnant or on maternity leave."

PRMI staff will be trained on the new parental leave policy, which applies to both men and women who have taken leave from work because of the birth or adoption of a child. The policy will prohibit the lender's staff from asking about an applicant's future leave plans, HUD said.

steve.kilar@baltsun.com

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