A young Black doctor sues Chase Bank after she tried to deposit her first check and was treated like a criminal

A 35-year-old Black doctor in Texas is suing Chase Bank for racial discrimination. In her lawsuit, she says she tried to open an account with Chase to deposit her "first check as a new physician," but Chase asked her "peculiar questions," called the check "fraudulent," told her she was trying to "commit fraud," and threw her out.

[Update 2-8-2022: the story that appeared in Black Enterprise, as excerpted below, has disappeared, strangely replaced by an article from October 2021 praising J.P. Morgan Chase! Many other new publications, including The Washington Post, had reported on it. Here's an archive of the original Black Enterprise story. Thanks to the readers who pointed this out]

From Black Enterprise:

On Feb. 2, Dr. Malika Mitchell-Stewart filed a lawsuit with the United States District Court Southern District of Texas- Houston Division against Chase Bank and its two employees – Shae Wells and Trupti Patel for "racial discrimination." …

The 35-year-old doctor went to the First Colony Bank in Sugar Land, Texas to open an account and deposit a $16,780.16 check from the Valley Oak Medical Group at the "predominantly white" suburban financial institution. Upon giving the check to Patel, the teller asked Mitchell-Stewart "peculiar questions" to reportedly verify who she was and validate the five-figure check. Patel allegedly didn't believe that the check was real nor Mitchell-Stewart was a doctor. 

Patel then took the check to Wells, an "associate banker." The physician also alleged that Patel and Wells mislead her to think that Wells was a manager when she wasn't. Upon returning to Mitchell-Stewart, Wells accused the shocked woman of having a fraudulent check and did not offer any explanation as to what she thought she discovered. The associate banker did, however, tell the doctor that she wouldn't allow her to open an account at the bank because she believed she was attempting to "commit fraud."

Fearing arrest, Mitchell-Stewart left the bank feeling humiliated after being "treated like a criminal."

When Dr. Mitchell-Stewart returned to the bank nine days later with her mother, the bank's employees dug in their heels and "explained that it was Chase Bank's discretion whether employees serviced her or not," according to Black Enterprise.

Then the lawsuit appeared. Now Chase suddenly wants to "better understand" the matter, sending out a boiler-plate statement: "We take this matter very seriously and are investigating the situation. We have reached out to Dr. Mitchell-Stewart to better understand what happened and apologize for her experience."