For Immediate Release: MARCH 2, 2015
Bank of America pays $155,000 in Minnesota Department of Human Rights settlement
ST. PAUL, MN – Bank of America will pay $155,000 to resolve a probable cause finding of discrimination by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights concerning the processing of a home loan modification for Kathryn Letourneau, the hearing-impaired customer.
“Next year marks the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey. “All businesses that serve the public must ensure that they are providing reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.”
In the complaint filed with the Department, Ms. Letourneau stated, she had requested Bank of America communicate solely with her via email during the $140,000 HARP loan modification process. After initially honoring the accommodation request, Bank of America stopped providing the accommodation in the months immediately before its decision to deny the loan modification. Bank of America’s denial of the loan modification was attributable to Bank of America’s refusal to reasonably accommodate the deaf customer’s request to communicate by email, according to the MDHR determination memorandum.
“This experience has left me so appreciative of people and organizations that stand for and defend equal rights for people with disabilities, especially when dealing with very personal situations with impersonal parties,” Letourneau said. “The Minnesota Department of Human Rights, along with Heather Gilbert, reinforced the fact that I, a person with a hearing loss, had every right to ask for accommodations that allow me to manage my obligations independently, and be an independent home owner, for that, I am deeply grateful.
The Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibits businesses that offer credit and loans from discriminating against customers who have a disability. Disability discrimination and retaliation are two of the most common claims that MDHR investigates. Between January and June of 2014, 30 percent of the complaints involved claims of disability discrimination and 19 percent were retaliation claims.
If you believe you have been discriminated against in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, please contact MDHR’s enforcement unit at 651.539.1100, 1.800.657.3704 or online at mn.gov/mdhr/intake. For more information about disability discrimination, please visit mn.gov/mdhr or follow the conversation on Twitter at Twitter at @mnhumanrights.
Editor’s Note: Kathryn Letourneau will be available for interviews from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday, March 2 at the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
Photos of her home and neighborhood are available on request. MDHR documents, including the charge of discrimination and the memorandum of determination, are available by request.
To schedule an interview, get copies of photos or public documents relating to the case, contact Jeff Holman at 651-539-1118.
Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Communications Department
Freeman Building, 625 Robert Street North, Saint Paul, MN 55155
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