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Old 01-24-2020, 08:32 AM
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Default Bank calls cops on black man trying to cash check from discrimination lawsuit


Bank calls cops on black man trying to cash check from discrimination lawsuit
By Joshua Rhett Miller
January 23, 2020 | 12:14pm | Updated

Sauntore Thomas

A Detroit man is suing a Michigan bank for refusing to cash a settlement check awarded to him in a racial discrimination lawsuit, according to a report.

Sauntore Thomas, 44, claims TCF Bank employees refused to cash or deposit his settlement check on Tuesday at a branch in Livonia, leading cops to respond and a fraud investigation to be launched, the Detroit Free Press reports.

“I didn’t deserve treatment like that when I knew that the check was not fraudulent,” Thomas told the newspaper. “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, who had an account at the bank for nearly two years, sued TCF Bank on Wednesday, alleging racial discrimination by the bank for calling police, prompting four cops to respond to the branch, the newspaper reports.

Thomas declined to indicate the amount of the settlement check, saying it’s part of a confidential agreement in a federal lawsuit against his former employer, Enterprise Leasing Company of Detroit.

The vet even called his employment law attorney while at the bank for help explaining to bank employees that the check was authentic.

“I got on the phone with the bank,” attorney Deborah Gordon told the newspaper. “I sent them my federal court complaint, to see that it matched. I did everything.”

Thomas was denied due to his race, Gordon said.

“Obviously, assumptions were made the minute he walked in based on his race,” the attorney continued. “It’s unbelievable that this guy got done with a race discrimination case and he’s not allowed to deposit the check based on his case? It’s absolutely outrageous.”

“We apologize for the experience Mr. Thomas had at our banking center,” TCF Bank spokesman Tom Wennerberg told The Post in a statement. “Local police should not have been involved. We strongly condemn racism and discrimination of any kind. We take extra precautions involving large deposits and requests for cash and in this case, we were unable to validate the checks presented by Mr. Thomas and regret we could not meet his needs.”

Thomas, who is suing for unspecified damages, was not arrested or charged during Tuesday’s visit to TCF Bank, where its computer system read his check as fraudulent, according to police.

But the check cleared some 12 hours later after Thomas opened a new account at a Chase bank in Detroit. The Air Force vet who previously walked to work then used the funds to buy a 2004 Dodge Durango, the Free Press reports.

“I feel very intimidated because I knew that if I would have gotten loud, they would have had me on the ground for disturbance of the peace,” Thomas said. “But I didn’t get loud … I did nothing.”
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