Man says bank discriminated when it refused to cash discrimination settlement checks

Marco Green
January 26, 2020

He went to cash it at a TCF Bank on Middlebelt Road Livonia, Michigan, at around 3 p.m. that same day to deposit the check, open a savings account and draw out some cash.

Wennerberg said bank employees should have accepted the checks and told Thomas there could be a hold on the funds until they could be validated.

According to TCF, the bank was unable to verify the checks, and said the company that wrote them wouldn't provide details because of the confidentiality of the lawsuit. In emails between police and Gordon seen by the Free Press, a police officer said the cheques were deemed fraudulent by the bank's computer, and that the cheques looked different from Enterprise's payroll checks.

The bank still didn't believe him, according to Thomas' lawsuit and they refused to deposit his checks.

TCF's apology came hours after the Free Press published an article about Thomas' experience at the branch where he went Tuesday to deposit his settlement checks.

Additionally, Thomas told the Free Press that two officers questioned him inside, while two others stood guard outside of the bank where he's been an account holder for almost two years.

Eventually, the cops showed up in 10 minutes and Thomas had to explain himself again and he gave one of the two officers his lawyer's business card. 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", he told the Free Press.

Thomas' attorney, Deborah Gordon, said he was able to deposit the checks at another bank without a problem and they cleared less than 24 hours later.

Thomas, 44, says he will sue the bank for unspecified damages. He already had a checking account at the bank.

Gordon said her client called her as he was being interrogated by two police officers, while others stood guard outside of the bank.

"My client is an African American male".

"Those checks couldn't have been more solid", she said.

"It's uncontested that the checks are legitimate". "I was just trying to do some banking". I find it shocking that they called the police. "He kept his composure, though", she told Insider.

He said the bank accused him of fraud and called police to investigate the cheques. "The irony is that the proceeds were from the settlement of a race discrimination case".

Thomas was not arrested and no charges were filed against him, the Free Press reported. "Local police should not have been involved", TCF said in a statement Thursday. He added that Thomas had made a "highly, highly unusual request". He then closed his TCF Bank account. "We strongly condemn racism and discrimination of any kind". Mr. Thomas' transaction was handled like any other transactions involving requests for large amounts of cash.

Livonia Police Department have been contacted for comment.

This article has been updated with a statement from TCF Bank.

Sauntore Thomas, a black man from Detroit, received a settlement in a racial discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, the Detroit Free Press first reported.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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