State Watch

Black doctor sues JPMorgan Chase for racial discrimination after being denied service at Texas branch

A Black doctor is suing JPMorgan Chase and two employees at the bank’s Sugar Land, Texas, branch for racial discrimination after she says she was refused service to open a bank account.

Dr. Malika Mitchell-Stewart, 34, completed her residency at the end of last year and planned to open a bank account with a $16,780.16 check at the Chase bank in Sugar Land, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that when Mitchell-Stewart presented her check to one of the bank’s employees, they began to ask questions challenging the validity of the check as well as Mitchell-Stewart’s employment as a doctor. The employee then allegedly told Mitchell-Stewart that they had to verify the check with the bank manager, the second employee named in the case, who is not actually a bank manager but an associate banker and lead teller-operations specialist, according to the lawsuit.

The second employee allegedly told Mitchell-Stewart that the check was fraudulent without providing justification before turning her away. Mitchell-Stewart then left the bank to avoid being arrested and “had an adverse emotional reaction over this humiliation,” according to the lawsuit.

“What Dr. Mitchell-Stewart was reminded of on this day was that she is a black woman attempting to deposit $16,000 in a predominantly white affluent suburb – Sugarland, Texas in Ft. Bend County,” the lawsuit said. “Solely because of her race, Dr. Mitchell-Stewart was discriminated against by members of Chase’s banking staff and denied services provided to non-African American customers of Chase.”

JPMorgan Chase commented on the case to NBC News, saying in a statement that the bank is “investigating the situation” and has reached out to Mitchell-Stewart. 

The doctor’s attorney, Justin Moore, said that what Michell-Stewart experienced is representative of a larger issue of discrimination against Black people in banking, according to a statement obtained by NBC.

“For a black female physician to be treated this way by Chase is a devastating reminder that no matter how hard we try and how far we climb, major corporations in this country still view us as if we are nothing,” Moore said. “Courageously, Dr. Mitchell-Stewart decided to not let Chase treat her like a criminal because she is black, and is seeking to fight back … We all should be inspired by her resolve and willingness to fight back.”

Tags bank fraud Banking JPMorgan Chase Racial discrimination

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