A black man in Detroit whod just won a settlement from a racial discrimination suit against his employer is now suing his bank for refusing to cash that settlement check.
Sauntore Thomas, a local 44-year-old, was attempting to deposit an undisclosed amount of money at a Livonia branch of TCF Bank Tuesday when the staff refused his check and called the cops instead, according to the local Detroit Free Press.
In fact, the money came from a confidential settlement reached after Thomas sued his employer, Enterprise Leasing Company of Detroit, for racial discrimination. Thomas explained that to the bank. But TCF Bank quickly initiated a fraud investigation anyway, and had multiple police officers question him inside the bank while two other cops stood guard.
In the meantime, Thomas called his attorney, Deborah Gordon, to explain to the bank that the check was legitimate and actually part of a settlement. Gordon sent the bank a copy of the federal court complaint. The officers received the lawsuit but wanted to further check with Thomas employer to ensure the check was real. Gordon did not immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment.
Thomas wasnt arrested, and charges werent filed, but he felt humiliated by the incident nonetheless.
TCF Bank did not immediately return a VICE News request for comment.
“I didn’t deserve treatment like that when I knew that the check was not fraudulent,” Thomas, who filed a discrimination complaint against the bank Wednesday, seeking an undisclosed amount, told the Free Press. “I’m a United States veteran. I have an honorable discharge from the Air Force. They discriminated against me because I’m black. None of this would have happened if I were white.”
Thomas closed his account with TCF Bank that day and later deposited the check at a local Chase banking branch, where he opened a new account. The check cleared about 12 hours after that, and Thomas used the money to buy a used car, since hed previously walked to work, according to the Free Press.
The incident adds to a decades-long conflict between financial institutions and black Americans, who have long been grilled over the most basic transactions. In December 2018, a Cleveland-area branch of Huntington Bank called the police on a black man attempting to deposit his paycheck. And in November 2017, a Fort Lauderdale branch of Wells Fargo suspected an elderly black woman of forging a check for $140, and similarly called the police. She later sued.
Cover: (AUSTRALIA OUT) Generic Commonwealth Bank, 19 May 2004. AFR Picture by TAMARA VONINSKI (Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images via Getty Images)