Wells Fargo faces lawsuit over mortgage discrimination

It is seeking additional time to counter claims of bias

Wells Fargo faces lawsuit over mortgage discrimination

Wells Fargo Bank is currently seeking a three-week extension from a federal court to prepare its response to allegations of racial discrimination against minority homebuyers—a lawsuit that could potentially involve up to 750,000 class members.

The bank argued in its motion filed with Federal Judge James Donato in the Northern District of California that without more time to respond, it would “suffer substantial harm and be materially prejudiced.” Wells Fargo is asking for three more weeks to address the plaintiffs’ expert evidence, indicating the bank’s concern over the allegations and the evidence presented against it.

Representing the plaintiffs, Dennis S. Ellis of Ellis George Law Firm commented on the importance of the expert evidence submitted: “Wells Fargo is obviously concerned with the expert evidence the Plaintiffs have submitted in support of their claims in this case, which will support the Plaintiffs’ motion to certify a class of affected minorities who were subjected to Wells Fargo’s discriminatory lending practices.”

The lawsuit alleges that Wells Fargo systematically discriminated against minority loan applicants, leading to denials, delays, and less favorable loan terms. It references a Bloomberg report from March 10, 2022, which highlighted disparities in loan approvals between White Americans and minority groups, based on data Wells Fargo disclosed under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.

Read next: Two of Canada’s largest banks pledge racial equity audits

Ellis further criticized Wells Fargo’s request for additional time.

“Wells Fargo had ample opportunity to address the effect of its lending practices and the harm it was causing as a company to hundreds of thousands of minorities but chose to do nothing to alter its policies... The fact that Wells Fargo years after instituting the discriminatory policies that have caused so much damage to its minority mortgage loan applicants still has no answer for its actions is appalling,” Ellis said.

This lawsuit comes on the heels of scrutiny from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which identified “statistically significant disparities” in how Black borrowers received mortgage rate discounts compared to others last year. The CFPB’s findings led to Wells Fargo being ordered to pay over $2 billion to consumers and a $1.7 billion civil penalty for legal violations across several of its product lines, including mortgage lending.

In its defense, Wells Fargo has claimed to be a leading lender to minority families, a stance Ellis criticized as ignoring the alleged discriminatory impacts of its lending policies.

“Systematic racial discrimination in homeownership and financing is one of the most significant causes for the stark differences in generational wealth between Black Americans and others... This case is about justice, not only for the named plaintiffs in this case but for every Black applicant or homeowner who was turned away by Wells Fargo because of the color of their skin,” co-counsel Ben Crump said.

Stay updated with the freshest mortgage news. Get exclusive interviews, breaking news, and industry events in your inbox, and always be the first to know by subscribing to our FREE daily newsletter.