According to the record of the 911 call received by CNN, a bank employee said, “I have a customer here – he is not our customer. He is trying to cash a check and is a fraudulent one. It does not fit our records.”
For many African Americans, what happened to McCowns in December 2018 is a common experience. Another introduction that calls African Americans police into everyday business and is on a growing list when doing black banking.
In the McCowns case, the bank’s staff could not reach the employer to verify the check, but followed the protocol and provided two forms of identification and fingerprints.
“It was very embarrassing,” McCowns said at the time. “That person who made the phone call – that manager, that teller – that person who made the phone call felt as if I was on trial.”
The branch manager used a racial slurry against him
Lawyers say that racial profiling in financial institutions often happens, but most people rarely report or sue it because the cases are hard to prove. Others simply make their deposits or break their checks and continue.
But with the growing growth against systemic racism since the death of George Floyd, more Black people are sharing their banking experiences. Last month, Florida lawyer and businessman Benndrick Watson sued Wells Fargo, accusing a bank manager of trying to open an account, using a racial slurry.
Watson had a personal checking account at the bank and was in a branch near Tampa to open a business account for the law firm in April last year. While the banker was investigating corporate records, Watson discovered to CNN that the record company discovered his business and started asking questions.
“It’s as if they didn’t believe I had a job,” he said.
Vezne brought a branch manager who started to study Watson’s information on her computer. Then the manager suddenly called him N * er.
“My jaw dropped literally – I was scared,” I said, “did he really say? “Said. “I sat down. He started talking. He started to scare me. It was hard to explain.”
The branch manager apologized, saying that he did not mean it and that he described it as “slipping the language”. He quickly gathered his belongings and ran to his car.
“When you went to the bank, your guard fell. You don’t expect to be called a racist word, ”said Watson. “I was a customer in this bank. I went to this bank. It was physically damaged.”
Watson said he wants to raise awareness of his case in the hope that banks will help them improve their relationship with Black small business owners.
Shortly after the incident, his lawyer Rodal reached the bank on behalf of his client. The regional manager wrote to Watson a letter that apologized and called it unacceptable.
“Although the expression of the offensive term seems unintentional, we understand that it disturbs your customer and does it for a good reason,” said the regional manager, in a letter to CNN by Rodal. “Wells Fargo does not like this kind of language under any circumstances and we have taken corrective action against the former branch manager.”
In a statement to CNN, Wells Fargo said the branch manager resigned because the bank was preparing to fire him and was not eligible for the guide.
“We are very sorry and apologize for having a terrible experience,” he said. “Wells Fargo does not tolerate discrimination in any way. We take all allegations of discrimination with our customers and employees very seriously and take action to address them.”
A teller refused to deposit his check
Sauntore Thomas, who resides in Michigan, recently reached an agreement with a bank on the racial discrimination lawsuit he filed this year after an officer refused to pay his checks.
A bank employee asked how he got the money and called the police to report that he was trying to deposit fraudulent checks. Four police officers came and questioned him.
“Something else stood up here,” said his lawyer, Deborah Gordon. “And I think there is only one thing: banking in black.”
Sauntore went to a different bank, opened an account and deposited his checks smoothly. At that time, the bank apologized to CNN.
“The local police should not have been involved. We strongly condemn racism and all forms of discrimination,” he said. “We take additional measures involving large deposits and cash demands, and in this case we could not verify the checks.”
After the trial was opened, he met with TCF chairman Gary Torgow.
“He relieved their assurance that the incident was an unfortunate mistake and did not reflect the way the bank did business,” Gordon told CNN. Said.
The law makes it difficult to claim compensation
Banks’ calls for racial profiling are growing due to Floyd’s murder by a police officer in Minneapolis and his demands for justice and corporate accountability.
Legal experts stated that banks have experienced racial discrimination for years with legal discrimination.
According to the civil rights lawyer Gordon, the 1964 Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in businesses such as theaters, restaurants and hotels, but banks are not on the list, making it difficult for profiled people in financial institutions to sue in the federal court.
“This movement was written in the middle of the Human Rights Movement when African Americans were struggling to sit at lunch, stay at the motel, or go to the movies.” Said. “The law of 1964 tried only to address these violations in the eyes of the public. The law needs to be changed, but I doubt it will happen.”
Some states have passed measures to address gaps. Gordon covers most of a Civil Rights Act adopted in 1976 in Michigan.
Some banks strive to provide a warm environment for minorities.
“As a Minneapolis-based company, we asked questions about how we can help with systemic inequalities, social and financial changes that have contributed to the recurrent tragedy at the time,” said US Bank Chief Diversity Officer Greg Cunningham. Said.
He urged large companies and their leaders to develop meaningful relationships with Black’s businesses and to actively condemn systemic racism.
Wells Fargo said that the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts are linked to a number of changes, including supporting Black companies to ensure a meaningful change.
“All managers will have to join a new live and interactive program designed specifically to deal with today’s challenges,” said Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf last month. Said. “This will go far beyond the current standard education, which is insufficient for the challenge.”
The bank promised to use such events to educate employees and provide better service.
“Every customer interaction and the most useful and valuable approach we can take with our employees is to continue to make sure that our policies, processes and training support justice and equality for every customer or non-customer we interact with.” Said.
Spokesperson Randi Berris said the TCF initiated mandatory unconscious bias training for employees and conducted a review of its policies and procedures to ensure that all customers were treated equally.
However, as businesses tighten their policies after Floyd’s murder, some bank leaders admit that more work needs to be done to build trust in minorities.