A Detroit bank has apologized to a man who attempted to cash a settlement check he’d received in a racial discrimination lawsuit. But it may be too late, as he’s already filing suit against that bank, and may soon have another check to cash.
Sauntore Thomas, 44, had three checks to deposit and cash at Detroit’s TCF Bank. Instead, they called police, believing the checks were fraudulent. Not only that, he says a bank manager asked where he got the them from.
We apologize for the experience Mr. Thomas had at our banking center. Local police should not have been involved,” TCF said in a statement Thursday. “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.”
(Gordon Law Firm)
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According to TCF, the checks that Thomas presented displayed a watermark that read VOID when they were scanned in a web viewer, which raised suspicion for fraud.
The checks, though, were legitimate as Thomas deposited them that same day at a Chase bank in Detroit and they cleared within 12 hours, said his lawyer, Deborah Gordon.
“I’m very pleased about the apology. That needed to be done, and I’m glad it’s been done,” said Gordon, adding her client “felt the same way when I told him.”
“We don’t know what it means in the future, but at least there’s been an apology and that’s a positive step,” said Gordon, noting that in her 40 years of practicing employment law, she has never had a client call her from a bank saying that the cops were called on them.
“I’ve had black clients call me from banks with problems,” Gordon said. “But I have never had a client turned away from a bank empty-handed, without being able to finish his transaction. And I never had the police called.”
Four officers showed up at the bank. Thomas’ lawyer provided proof of the court settlement, but not only did TCF refuse to cash them, they filed a police report. TCF says the confidential nature of the settlement meant the company issuing the checks would not provide info, according to Freep.com. Thomas closed his account and found a more willing banking partner at Chase, which cleared his money in a day. Thomas, with the help of Gordon, has now filed a lawsuit against TCF.
He told the freep.com: “I didn’t deserve treatment like that,” Thomas 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.”
Due to the confidential nature of the settlement, the amount of the checks was not disclosed.
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