In California, a federal judge ruled that a lawsuit filed against Wells Fargo pertaining to lending discrimination in student loans is allowed to proceed in court.
On August 10th, Outten & Golden LLP, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, issued a press release that said U.S. District Judge Maxine M. Chesney decided to allow the plaintiffs to pursue a discrimination lawsuit against Wells Fargo.
Wells Fargo has been accused of illegally denying qualified college students loans on the basis of citizenship or immigration status. Chesney of the Northern District of California based her decision on both a federal law that makes discrimination against aliens illegal and a California law that disallows discrimination of immigration status.
On the other side, Wells Fargo is making the argument that another federal law gives the bank the power to discriminate against specific immigrants.
The plaintiffs are being represented in court by the aforementioned Outten & Golden LLP and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). They have been granted permission to live in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) which enables immigrants that were brought to this country as children to legally live and work in the U.S.
One of the plaintiffs in this particular case, Mitzie Perez, applied for a student loan from Wells Fargo in August of 2016. Perez, an undergraduate student at the University of California, Riverside, already has a Social Security number and a work permit through DACA. After filling out the Wells Fargo student loan application which required Perez to enter her citizenship status, she was denied the education loan. The alleged basis for her denial, and her case, is she wrote in the application that she was neither a U.S. citizen nor permanent resident.
The lawsuit against Wells Fargo is seeking class-action status to include every person in the U.S. since 2013 that was denied a loan from Wells Fargo because they were not U.S. citizens even if they complied with federal laws.
One partner from Outten & Golden LLP, David Lopez, had the following to say on Chesney’s ruling: “This decision affirms that private banks like Wells Fargo cannot ignore their legal obligations to loan applicants not to discriminate based on citizenship or immigration status.”
According to Outten & Golden LLP, Wells Fargo’s argument that a separate federal law that regulates lending governs the civil rights laws that form the plaintiffs’ suit was rejected by Chesney.
The lawsuit pertaining to Wells Fargo and the discriminatory student loan lending practices they are being accused of has been an ongoing story throughout the year. Back in February, LendEDU covered the story when the lawsuit was initially filed in a Los Angeles court. In December of 2016, a research study done by LendEDU found that Wells Fargo is one of the most complained about banks in the U.S. By looking at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s 2016 data, we found that Wells Fargo received eight complaints for every billion in deposits; this was the third highest rate of complaints.
Author: Mike Brown
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