Associates National Bank
Re: United States v. Associates National Bank
As you may know, Associates National Bank has recently entered into a settlement agreement with the United States to resolve a lawsuit brought by the United States against the Bank. Please read this letter and the enclosed materials carefully as it may affect your rights.
In its lawsuit, the United States alleged that Associates National Bank discriminated against credit card applicants and cardholders on the basis of national origin in violation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. §§1691-1691f. The United States specifically alleged that Associates National Bank excluded from certain promotions cardholders who had applied for their cards using Spanish-language applications, rejected certain Spanish-language credit card applicants while approving similarly situated English-language applicants, and assigned lower credit limits to certain Spanish-language credit card applicants than to similarly situated English-language applicants. Associates National Bank denies the allegations in the lawsuit and continues to assert that we have never discriminated on the basis of national origin in our credit card business. However, to avoid the uncertainties and costs of protracted litigation, the Bank and the United States have agreed to this voluntary settlement. A copy of the settlement agreement which we have reached with the Department of Justice is enclosed with this letter.
The Department of Justice has determined that, according to our records, you applied for an Associates National Bank credit card using a Spanish-language application prior to May 1997 and were treated less favorably than similarly situated English-language applicants and cardholders. Therefore, the Department of Justice has determined that you are entitled to monetary compensation award under the terms of the settlement agreement in the amount of _____________ dollars ($__,____.00).
The Department of Justice believes the money you will receive is a fair settlement of the alleged violation of the law as it relates to your loan application. However, you are not required to accept this monetary award. If you do not want to participate in this settlement, you may decline to do so and thereby give up your right to receive money under this agreement. If you choose to decline this award, you may pursue any legal rights you might have individually with a private attorney of your own choosing.
If you choose to accept this award, you must sign a general release in which you agree to accept the monetary award in exchange for your agreement not to bring any legal action on your own against Associates National Bank or its successor financial institutions on the grounds that Associates National Bank discriminated against you in our credit card business because of your national origin. Please read this General Release form carefully.
In order to receive this monetary award, sign the enclosed General Release form in the presence of a Notary Public and return it within sixty (60) days of receiving this letter.
Please return the signed, notarized General Release form in the stamped envelope enclosed for your convenience. The envelope is addressed to:
Associates National Bank
If you do not return the enclosed General Release form within sixty (60) days of receiving this letter, you will be ineligible for the monetary award. You may wish to make a copy of the signed release for yourself prior to returning it to the Bank.
The Bank will mail a certified check to you, in the amount specified above, by certified/registered mail, after you have returned your signed, notarized release. You may not receive the check for your monetary award for several months after returning the signed, notarized release to us, as processing the total number of awards may take some time.
If you have any questions, you may contact the Department of Justice at 1-800-___-____. Please follow the voice instructions after you are connected. Be sure to leave your name, the name of this case, your telephone number, and a time at which you may be reached at that number.
Please be aware that the government attorneys can not act as your private attorney. However, you may consult with a private attorney of your own at any time if you wish. If you do retain an attorney concerning this matter, please have them contact the attorneys for the United States. Those inquiries may be addressed to:
Housing & Civil Enforcement Section
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
P.O. Box 65998
Washington, D.C. 20035-5998
Attn: U.S. V. Associates National Bank
Please inform the United States of any change in your address at the telephone number or address listed above. You may become ineligible for a monetary award for failure to inform the United States of any change in your address.
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