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Ex-underwriters sue UWM for retaliation, sexual harassment

Former employees brought hostile workplace and gender/sexual harassment accusations

Top U.S. originator United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) is the target of two lawsuits filed by former underwriters alleging retaliation, a hostile workplace environment, gender/sexual harassment and failure to pay minimum wages and overtime.

The company declined to comment on the accusations. 

According to the lawsuits filed in a U.S. district court in Michigan, the alleged events occurred amid the mortgage lender’s return-to-work policy during the Covid-19 pandemic. UWM forced employees to return to the office on July 9, 2021, per the lawsuits.  

Kassandra Memmer, hired as a conventional underwriter in September 2019, sued the company in April 2023. Memmer says she quit her job after the lender forced her to return to work despite a doctor’s note outlining her leave of absence to ensure her health and that of her unborn child. 

“In June of 2021, Defendant started removing barriers from desks, removing hand sanitizer machines, and not being strict on mask mandates,” the plaintiff’s attorney states in the lawsuit. “She had no choice: she either chose her family or her job.”

Her partner Jackson Memmer, a transgender man, started working at UWM as a conventional underwriter in August 2019. In a lawsuit filed in late May 2023, he alleges he was fired due to an investigation into clearing conditions with appraisals done when he was on paternity leave. The former underwriter was told he was being let go in December 2021, per the lawsuit. 

A spokesperson for UWM said the company “does not comment on legal matters that are currently pending.”  

Kassandra Memmer accuses the company of not paying her final bonus for June 2021 for files completed over daily commitment. Meanwhile, Jackson Memmer alleges he did not receive his final bonus from November 2021, which should be roughly $5,000. 

The plaintiffs complained to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about the discriminatory treatment and received a right-to-sue letter, the lawsuit states.  

Kassandra Memmer said she was offered a promotion to team lead but declined. However, she contacted human resources to switch to another department because “she was under a lot of stress with the brokers screaming at her and for denying the team lead position.”

She said a broker contacted her via e-mail and hit on her. The broker stated that “she was too pretty to be an underwriter and that he was going to tell her CEO Mat Ishbia to make her a model for the company,” per the lawsuit.

The leadership, according to the case, never reported the incident. 

Kassandra Memmer said in the lawsuit that she had to work many overtime hours to finish files and train senior underwriters. 

“Plaintiff and other underwriters were also required to do something Defendant called ‘Rise and Grind,’ which meant coming into work earlier or staying two hours more than the employee’s scheduled time, but with no compensation,” attorneys wrote in the lawsuit. 

Kassandra and Jackson Memmer said that in October 2020, they bought a home with a UWM mortgage, which is when they allege UWM became aware that Jackson was a transgender man. 

In early April, Bloomberg reported that with more than two-dozen current and former employees said UWM has a toxic work environment, with racial disparities, sexual harassment, drug use and bullying by managers. UWM said Bloomberg’s portrayal of a hostile workplace was “false and misleading.” 

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