Former Rocket employee alleges workplace discrimination in new lawsuit

A former executive refinance banker alleges that Rocket Mortgage treated her unfairly compared to white male counterparts

An executive refinance banker formerly employed by Rocket Mortgage is suing the company for treating her unfairly in the workplace. She alleges that the company refused a transfer request, cut her salary and demoted her when similarly situated white male employees were not given similar treatment, according to court documents reviewed by HousingWire.

Zara Northover, a Black woman who worked for Rocket in Michigan as an executive refinance banker, brought suit against the company last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Northover, who has previously filed suit against Rocket for other alleged discrimination, said in her complaint that the company violated civil rights protections and summarily terminated her in 2023.

HousingWire reached out to Northover’s attorney, but a request for comment was not immediately returned. A spokesperson for Rocket Companies told HousingWire that the company denies the allegations and will defend itself.

“Ms. Northover has already filed two prior lawsuits alleging similar claims, and summarily lost on both occasions,” the spokesperson said. “She is now back for a third time, in a desperate attempt to gain attention with her baseless and failed claims. We have exhaustively reviewed Ms. Northover’s claims over the past three years and found them to be entirely without merit. We will vigorously defend the company we have built by doing the right thing for our team members.”

In December 2022, Northover said that she was placed on a “production letter” related to being in “the bottom 10%” of performance for writing folders.” After successfully completing the requirements for improvement, Northover said she “was denied transfer to a different department, while similarly situated white employees were allowed to transfer,” the complaint alleges.

In February 2023, Northover said she was informed that her salary would be cut and her hours would be changed, at which time she spoke to a supervisor about a potentially better-paid role for her in the company. While her supervisor agreed that she should be able to apply for a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) role, Northover alleges her applications were “improperly denied.”

On April 1, 2023, her annual salary was allegedly reduced from $62,000 to $26,000, the complaint stated. Nine days later, Northover said she was issued a second production letter that led to a demotion, but she noted that she “had white male counterparts who received two production letters within six months. These white male employees were not demoted. Further, these white male employees were allowed to transfer into different departments whereas [Northover] was not.”

She also alleges that she was notified of her second production letter at a later date than her coworkers, and that she was given three days’ less time to comply due to being on leave.

After filing an internal complaint and following up with an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint — which she had filed against the company before — Northover claims she was “summarily terminated on May 10, 2023,” and was not given the chance to collect personal belongings from her office.

The suit alleges violations of both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a Michigan-specific anti-discrimination law, the  Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976. The suit also alleges that the company retaliated against her for bringing these complaints forward, in separate violations of Title VII and the Michigan law, and discriminated against her on the basis of race in another violation of both state and federal law.

The final allegation is a violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993. Northover said she is covered by a qualified medical condition and was on protected leave at the time of the company’s alleged conduct.

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