A man, who was cashing three checks he obtained after a workplace racial discrimination lawsuit, found himself in the strange situation where he was discriminated against at the bank because of his race.
Sauntore Thomas, a black man from Detroit, recently did an interview where he shared his story by explaining that the TCF Bank employees at the Livonia, Michigan branch, opted to call the police instead of cashing or depositing his settlement checks totaling $99,000.
Talking to BuzzFeed, Thomas explained that he is a United States veteran who had successfully settled a lawsuit against his former employer, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, and wanted to deposit the checks awarded to him and withdraw some cash while at the bank.
While Thomas and his lawyer, Deborah Gordon, have decided not to reveal the amount of money he won after the lawsuit, the bank’s spokesman, Tom Wennerberg, said in a statement that he tried to deposit three checks from his former employer: one for $59,000, one for $27,000, and one for $13,000.
The trip to the bank did not go as planned for the 44-year-old man who was deemed “suspicious” by the assistant bank manager who questioned the legitimacy of the checks.
He claimed that TCF Bank employees called the authorities who rapidly arrived at the premises and questioned him about the money.
Thomas stated that his mind went to the news about the numerous African-Americans who were killed by the police, and he worked hard to remain calm during the disturbing incident.
Thomas said he was determined not to get shot “for simply banking while black.”
He said: “I didn’t give them any type of indication that I was upset. I wanted to make sure I stayed as levelheaded as possible because I wasn’t going to be the next person on the ground saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’”
The Air Force veteran responded to all the questions posed by the four Livonia Police officers and contacted his attorney, who was quick to provide the documents confirming that his client did indeed obtain the money after a court battle.
Despite the lawyer’s conversation and the documents, the assistant branch manager requested a possible check fraud investigation.
Thomas had this to say: “The assistant manager basically said, ‘We can’t even prove that was your lawyer on the phone we were talking to. So I said, ‘OK, if you’re going to treat me like this, and I’m a customer, and I have an account. That is not right. There was no reason why I have to do business with you at all, I have to close my account.”
Gordon added: “This is just another classic example of what it’s like living your life as a black male. The checks are for real. Why was there an issue? Why could you not verify them? You’re a bank; after all, it’s your job to verify checks.”
After Thomas’ story went viral, TCF Bank issued an apology and stated that the employees were wrong to call the police.
Wennerberg added: “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 terminated his account with TCF Bank and opened a new one at a Chase bank in Detroit where his checks cleared and he took some money to buy a 2004 Dodge Durango,
Thomas was not arrested, and no criminal charges have been filed against him for the police has closed the case.
Thomas and his lawyer have filed another racial discrimination suit against the bank.
View this post on Instagram
Black Man Sued Employer for Racism, then Bank Refused to Cash his Settlement Check! Instead, they Called the Police #BankingWhileBlack Sauntore Thomas sued his employer for racial discrimination in a lawsuit that settled with a payout. Then he went to the bank to cash his settlement checks, but the Livonia Bank refused to cash or deposit his checks. Instead, they called the cops and initiated a fraud investigations. Thomas now has another lawsuit. #StayWoke This is an example of White Supremacy, White businesses #OnCode with each other. This brother was an account holder for two years at that TCF bank branch! #BankBlack @oneunited #blackwallstreet #SauntoreThomas #blackconsciousness #racialdiscrimination