Detroit resident Sauntore Thomas is suing a Michigan bank for refusing to cash a settlement check awarded to him in a racial discrimination lawsuit.
According to The New York Post, the 44-year-old claims TCF Bank employees wouldn’t cash or deposit his settlement check. The Livonia branch employees called the police on Thomas who had an account with the bank.
Thomas commented on the incident:
“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. But I didn’t get loud … I did nothing.”
“I didn’t deserve treatment like that when I knew that the check was not fraudulent. 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.”
The check that Thomas (pictured below) brought into the bank is a settlement from a federal lawsuit against his former employer, Enterprise Leasing Company of Detroit.
Thomas’ Employment Law Attorney Deborah Gordon commented on the incident:
“I got on the phone with the bank. I sent them my federal court complaint, to see that it matched. I did everything. Obviously, assumptions were made the minute he walked in based on his race. 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.”
TCF Bank spokesman Tom Wennerberg commented to The New York Post:
“We apologize for the experience Mr. Thomas had at our banking center. 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 was not arrested or charged during the visit to TCF Bank. According to police, the bank’s computer system read his check as fraudulent. The check cleared 12 hours later at the Chase bank in Detroit where Thomas had opened a new account a few hours later. Thomas, who had no car and walked to work, used the money to buy a 2004 Dodge Durango.
Deborah Gordon called out the bank for the claim that the check was flagged as fraudulent:
“The checks have never been considered fraudulent, they are proceeds against a settlement written on a check from a large, United States corporation that I received from a major law firm. No one is issuing fraudulent checks. This whole thing is insane.”