WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced today that it has reached a settlement resolving allegations that Nationwide Nevada, LLC, and its general partner NAC Management Corp., engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination by refusing to finance car loans for customers living on Indian reservations in Utah and Nevada.
In the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, the Justice Department alleged that Nationwide Nevada, LLC, and its general partner NAC Management Corp. violated the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) by systematically refusing to purchase automobile finance contracts for applicants living on Indian reservations. The complaint alleges that Nationwide Nevada refused to finance car loans on Indian reservations from at least 2003 to 2005.
The settlement is in the form of a consent order filed in federal District Court in Las Vegas. Under the consent order, which is subject to court approval, Nationwide Nevada and NAC Management Corp. are prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin against loan applicants because they live on an Indian reservation.
"This consent decree sends the message that lenders must not discriminate against any American because of his or her race or ethnicity," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "We hope that other lenders will be encouraged to review how their practices affect those living on Indian reservations."
Under the consent order, the defendants will pay $170,000 to compensate loan applicants who were denied loans by Nationwide Nevada due to their residence (or the residence of their co-applicant) on an Indian reservation. In addition, the company has agreed to implement a non-discrimination policy stating that consideration of residency on an Indian reservation is not a valid basis for declining to purchase automobile sales finance contracts. The company will also provide enhanced equal credit opportunity training to its officers and employees who determine whether to finance car loans.
This case resulted from an investigation conducted by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. A copy of the consent order between the United States and the companies, and additional information about fair lending enforcement by the Justice Department, are available at www.usdoj.gov/fairhousing.