HUD Prohibits Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation-based Discrimination

February 16, 2021 at 9:40 am Leave a comment

In one of the first examples of the dramatic impact the Biden Administration will have on housing policy, The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced Friday that it was interpreting the Fair Housing Act as prohibiting discrimination against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The announcement, which is an outgrowth of Executive Order 139.88, means that we will soon start seeing high profile enforcement actions based on alleged sexual orientation discrimination.

In one of the most important cases from its last term, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis sex, also applied to individuals discriminated against on the basis of their sexual oritentation or gender identity. In the memo released on Friday, HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity announced that the ruling extends to discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, which of course bars discrimination on the basis of race or sex. Effective immediately, HUD will “accept for filing and investigate all complaints of sex discrimination, including on the basis of gender identity or sexual oritentation.” The new announcement is intended to signal that this prohibition is going to be aggressively interpreted and enforced by HUD.

On a practical level, lenders in New York should already have policies which prohibit gender-based discrimination as a matter of state law. But now that HUD has issued this ruling, credit unions that lend in New York and in states which don’t already ban this type of discrimination should review their existing policies.

Entry filed under: Compliance, Federal Legislation, Legal Watch, Mortgage Lending, New York State, Regulatory. Tags: , , , , .

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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., Senior Vice President, General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association. In addition, although Henry strives to give his readers useful and accurate information on a broad range of subjects, many of which involve legal disputes, his views are not a substitute for legal advise from retained counsel.

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