A Detroit man who had been awarded a settlement from a racial discrimination lawsuit says he only found more discrimination when went to his bank and tried to cash the checks.
Sauntore Thomas had claimed that a former employer racially discriminated against him, and eventually the two sides reached a confidential settlement that left the man with three large checks, the Detroit Free Press reported. When Thomas took the check to a nearby branch of TCF Bank, they refused to cash or deposit it, and instead called police to launch a fraud investigation.
This week, Thomas filed another racial discrimination lawsuit against TCF Bank, claiming that he was humiliated when a branch in the Detroit suburb of Livonia called four police officers to investigate his deposits. The bank claimed that the deposits were marked as fraudulent by the bank’s computer system, and TCF Bank spokesman Tom Wennerberg said that race played no factor.
The bank later issued an apology, saying that police should have never been called and noting that they “strongly condemn racism and discrimination of any kind.” The bank added that the teller who first raised suspicion about the checks was African American.
However, Thomas said he did not believe it was simply a mistake, saying he believed that the bank was targeting him because he is African American.
Thomas said that the bank did not tell him they suspected the checks could be fraudulent. Instead, he told Fox 2 Detroit that the teller just walked away, and he was later greeted by police.
“I said I’ll just wait,” Thomas recalled. “She walked away and 10 minutes later Livonia police walk in and they say, ‘Excuse me can you come here?’ And I said, ‘Who, me?'”
Thomas said he had an account at TCF for two years and was angry at being questioned by police inside his bank.
“I didn’t deserve treatment like that when I knew that the check was not fraudulent,” Thomas told the Detroit 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.”
After TCF would not take Thomas’ check, he went to a nearby Chase bank and opened an account. Thomas said the checks cleared within 12 hours.
Thomas is asking for unspecified damages from TCF and also wants an apology from the bank.