Answer by David Dickinson: Sure that's discrimination (one got the loan and the other didn't), but it isn't illegal discrimination based on a protected class. Fair Lending laws indicate it is illegal to consider race, sex, marital status, religion, etc. Having a relationship with a bank officer is not a factor for illegal discrimination.
Answer by Randy Carey: David is correct. However, this could lead to a lot of explaining by the bank during a fair lending examination if it is not specifically defined within the credit underwriting policies and procedures. It still has an opportunity to present a disparate impact. For example, if all of your loan officers are a specific race, the chances are that most of their "relationships" are also with people of similar demographics. Without sticking to true credit underwriting standards you are opening the door for disparate impact and possible disparate treatment. IMHO - This is not a road that the bank should take.
First published on BankersOnline.com 4/30/07