The Justice Department has settled a first-of-its-kind discrimination case against the nation's largest mortgage insurer for requiring women on maternity leave to return to work before the company would insure their mortgages.

The lawsuit filed last July against the Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corp. alleged a violation of the Fair Housing Act and was the government's first involving discrimination against women in mortgage insurance.

The lawsuit arose from a complaint to the Housing and Urban Development Department by a Wexford, Pa., loan applicant.

Seventy people will be compensated from a $511,250 fund. The Justice Department's civil rights enforcement chief, Thomas Perez, says no lending company should force a parent to give up the right to take time off from work to obtain a mortgage loan.

A federal court approved the settlement.

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