Union Home Mortgage denies it illegally terminated pregnant worker’s employment

Ohio-based lender Union Home Mortgage denied sex discrimination claims made by a former employee whose employment was terminated while she was pregnant. The lender acknowledged employment termination but denied any unlawful conduct. 

Elizabeth Martin, a former loan officer assistant of UHM, filed suit against the lender alleging sex and/or pregnancy under the Missouri Human Rights Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act in the 16th judicial circuit court of Jackson County, Missouri early this year.

Martin claimed that she told her supervisor Robert Hastings, sales manager Josh Carr, and the lender’s human resources department about her pregnancy as early as January 2022 and no later than June 2022.

Martin was a loan officer assistant at UHM from March 1, 2021 until “the unlawful termination” on August 11, 2022, according to the suit. The former loan officer assistant completed her documentation related to her expected absence in July 2022. Her anticipated maternity leave was to begin August 10, 2022.

On August 5, 2022, Martin said she had a conversation with Carr in which she brought up Hastings’ potential departure and her concern about the handling of the loans assigned while she was out on maternity leave.

Carr “assured her that regardless of whether Mr. Hastings remained with UHM, he would be able to place her in a position with UHM at one of the offices in Lee’s Summit, Missouri,” the suit said.

Hastings, a branch manager and loan officer, on Aug. 8 told Martin he was leaving UHM and taking another loan officer assistant with him.

On August 11, Martin informed a HR generalist of her physician’s instructions of bed rest due to her high-risk pregnancy. Martin sent a copy of the doctor’s instructions to Carr by email the same morning, according to the suit.

That day, however, Martin received a call from HR that there are “no open positions within the company” and that her benefits would be terminated at the end of the month.

In its most recent response to Martin’s complaint, UHM acknowledged the former employee’s employment termination but denied that the people responsible for terminating her employment were aware of her pregnancy.

UHM had “legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons” for its actions regarding Martin. 

“Some of UHM’s employees were aware of her pregnancy. UHM denies that the decision makers regarding her termination were aware of her pregnancy, denies that it engaged in any unlawful conduct,” the lender said on August 17.

UHM and attorneys representing the lender and Martin didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Union Home Mortgage was sued by Caliber Home Loans last year for trying to “cripple” its Southeast operation.

Caliber alleged UHM raided more than 50 employees that produced $400 million in mortgages in 2021.

UHM originated $1.75 billion in origination volume in the first six months of 2023, according to data from mortgage software firm Modex. The company had 908 active loan officers as of August, per Modex’s data.