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Sherwin Root is an attorney in the Corporate Practice Group in the firm's Los Angeles office.

On January 11, 2024, an administrative law judge for the NLRB issued an opinion holding that the employment agreement used by a major mortgage lender for all of its approximately 6,000 employees violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The mortgage lender’s standard employment contract included provisions that: 1) restricted disclosure of confidential information; 2) governed the use and return of company property, information, and communications; and 3) required that certain disputes be resolved through arbitration. Many of these provisions are common in employment agreements between lenders and their employees. Nevertheless, the ALJ found that parts of these provisions violated the NLRA because they had a reasonable tendency to interfere with, restrain, or coerce an employee contemplating engaging in activity protected by the statute.Continue Reading NLRB Finds Common Provisions in Mortgage Lender Employment Contract Illegal

On December 4, Judge R. Gary Klausner of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California granted summary judgment to California’s DFPI upholding the recently adopted commercial financing disclosure regulations related to the implementation of SB 1235 (we blogged about the rule here).  The regulations require small business financing providers to disclose key metrics to small businesses to help them understand potential financing options, including the amount of funding provided, APR, finance charge, and payment amounts. The plaintiffs in this latest challenge – a trade association of small business finance companies – asserted that the disclosure requirements violated plaintiffs’ free speech rights under the First Amendment and that the disclosures were preempted by the Truth in Lending Act (TILA).Continue Reading Federal Judge Upholds California’s Small-business Lending Disclosures

On September 27, the CFPB released its annual report on residential mortgage lending activity and trends for 2022. Under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), the CFPB requires financial institutions to collect and provide loan-level information on mortgage loan applications and originations. Not surprisingly given the dramatic rise in interest rates last year, the report found that overall affordability is declining, that borrowers spent more of their income on mortgage payments, that loan fees increased dramatically due primarily to many borrowers electing to buy down their interest rate by paying discount points, and that lenders more often denied applications for insufficient income.Continue Reading CFPB 2022 Loan Data: Decrease in Originations; Increase Loan Payments, Fees

Ten years after the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) first promulgated its disparate impact rule (the Rule), on September 19, the US District Court for the District of Columbia granted HUD’s motion for summary judgment upholding the Rule. Continue Reading US District Court Grants HUD’s Summary Judgment Motion in Disparate Impact Case

Many residential mortgage lenders currently have loan compensation plans that provide for a payment to loan originators of one commission amount for loans funded by the lender, and a smaller commission amount for loans that are brokered out to other lenders. While the CFPB never directly endorsed this result, they did not reject it either. In its Loan Originator Compensation Rule Resource Guide, the Mortgage Bankers Association provided the following illustration and comment when discussing the Loan Originator Compensation Rule’s prohibition against compensation based on a proxy for a term of a transaction:Continue Reading CFPB Adjusts Long Time Position Relating to Loan Originator Compensation

On September 8, a Texas federal judge ruled that the CFPB exceeded its authority by adopting a sweeping anti-discrimination policy last year. The CFPB adopted the policy in March 2022, via an update to its exam manual, stating that discrimination in any financial product is an “unfair” practice that can trigger liability under the federal prohibition against “unfair, deceptive or abusive acts or practices” or UDAAPs (we discussed this policy in previous posts here and here). The CFPB offered examples of practices that may be unfair because they are discriminatory, including offering one set of products or services to a certain customer demographic and a greater set of products or services to another customer demographic, providing inferior terms to one customer demographic as compared to another customer demographic, and engaging in targeted marketing or advertising in a discriminatory manner. Continue Reading Texas Court Strikes Down CFPB UDAAP Policy

On June 23, in Soaring Pine v. Park St Grp, the Michigan Supreme Court held that under certain circumstances, a lender cannot avoid liability for charging illegally high interest rates by including a usury savings clause in loan documents that would reduce the applicable interest rate to the highest non-usurious interest rate permitted by applicable law. The court remanded a private equity firm’s breach-of-contract suit against a house-flipping company back to the trial court to determine whether the lender broke the law.Continue Reading Michigan Supreme Court Limits Applicability of Usury Savings Clauses

On February 27, the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) issued new guidance with respect to the performance of remote work by mortgage loan originators (MLOs) working for licensees under the California Residential Mortgage Lending Act (California Financial Code Sections 50000 et seq., the “CRMLA”). The CRMLA does not expressly prohibit employees of a licensee from working at a remote location, such as an employee’s home. A licensee may authorize an employee to perform limited functions at a remote location that is not considered a branch office, provided that the location does not have the indicia of a branch office and is not advertised to the public as a business location. However, the guidance noted that a branch manager must continue to supervise employees who are working remotely, and that the DFPI will continue to examine the supervisory activities of a branch manager to ensure that the branch manager is adequately supervising each MLO and employee regardless of whether they are working at a remote location or a branch office.Continue Reading California DFPI Publishes New Guidance on Remote Work by MLOs

On February 3, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued an opinion and order dismissing with prejudice the CFPB’s complaint for violations of the ECOA against a mortgage lender and its owner violated for engaging in discriminatory marketing and applicant outreach practices. In particular, the CFPB alleged fair lending violations based on comments made by the company on a local radio station that the CFPB alleged discouraged prospective minority applicants from submitting mortgage loan applications to the lender. The Bureau’s allegations relied on the ECOA’s implementing regulation, Regulation B, which prohibits creditors from making any statements “to applicants or prospective applicants that would discourage on a prohibited basis a reasonable person from making or pursuing an application.”Continue Reading District Court Dismisses CFPB Redlining Action Against Nonbank, Limits ECOA’s Reach

Recently, the CFPB filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit arguing that the court should reinstate a borrower’s putative class action claim against a national bank. The CFPB argued that the district court erred by improperly narrowing a provision in Regulation Z of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) that prohibits lenders from withdrawing from deposit accounts to cover debts caused by credit card plans.Continue Reading CFPB Files Amicus Brief in TILA Suit, Impacts How Banks Collect on HELOCs