Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act
H.R. 2498; S. 1143
Securing credit is critical to some of the most important undertakings in life, including buying a home, going to college, or starting a small business. Credit decisions should not be based on personal characteristics, such as race and sex, that are unrelated to creditworthiness and our nation’s civil rights laws reflect that.
However, there is no federal law that consistently protects LGBTQ people from credit discrimination. Consequently, LGBTQ people can still be denied a mortgage, credit card, student loan, or other type of lending simply because of who they are.
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act
The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits discrimination in credit based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, marital status, and age. This applies to all creditors, and creditors who violate the Equal Credit Opportunity Act are subject to punitive damages of up to $10,000 in individual lawsuits and up to the lesser of $500,000 or one percent of the bank’s net worth in class action suits. They may also be charged court costs and attorneys’ fees if the complainant is successful.
What is the Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act?
The Freedom from Discrimination in Credit Act (FDCA) would amend the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to prohibit discrimination in the provision of credit based on sexual orientation or gender identity. FDCA simply extends the basic protections afforded under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act to LGBTQ Americans.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia currently prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation in credit.
What is the Current Status of the Bill?
FDCA was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and in the Senate by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) on May 17, 2017.