The Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation (MGIC), the nation's largest mortgage insurance company, is facing a Justice Department law suit because of the company's requirement that women return from paid maternity leave before mortgages will be approved and insured.  The case refers to loan customers who are seeking to borrow more than 80 percent of their home's value, a situation in which most mortgage lenders require mortgage insurance.

The suit was filed in Pennsylvania on July 5.  It falls under the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits discrimination in housing and mortgage lending based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status.

"No woman should be denied the opportunity to receive a mortgage loan simply because she has just given birth," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division in a statement.. "Our nation's fair housing laws prohibit this kind of discrimination, and the Justice Department is committed to aggressive enforcement of those laws."

"It defies belief that, in 2011, any institution would discriminate against a mother for legally and properly taking leave after the birth of a child," said U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania David Hickton.  "My office will not stand idly by while parents suffer discrimination in lending simply for taking maternity or paternity leave."