After years of hard work and dedication, a Black woman doctor was finally ready to cash in on her dreams, but that dream would be deferred. Dr. Malika Mitchell-Stewart of Houston has recently filed a lawsuit against JP Morgan Chase Bank after being denied financial services at one of its branches. She alleges that upon attempting to cash a check for $16,000, she was immediately questioned, and “treated like a criminal.” She is now suing for $1M.
Dr. Mitchell-Stewart who had just begun working for the Valley Oaks Medical Group in Houston says that the check was a sign on bonus for her new role. Yet, despite what may be considered a large sum of money to some, states that if she had been a white man attempting the same transaction, there would have been no issue.
“If I was a white male with that same check, I’m sure they would have verified it, deposited it, and opened an account for them that day,” Mitchell-Stewart tells Priscilla Thompson of NBC News.
Instead, employees at the First Colony Branch in Sugar Land, Texas allegedly began firing off a list of questions about the doctor’s employment status, and her age, turning what was supposed to be a special moment into a nightmare.
‘They didn’t respect anything. I shouldn’t have even been asked so many questions about my age, what I did for a living, just to open an account at Chase,” Mitchell-Stewart said.
“In order to get Texas medical license or a medical license at all, you have to have a clean record. You have to go to school for so many years, and they just didn’t care.”
Dr. Mitchell-Stewart says that she not only showed legal identification, she showed her business card, and even called colleagues from her medical group to confirm her identity. Despite the proof she provided however, she was still turned away, a claim that Chase completely denies.
“We take this matter very seriously,’ the company said. ‘We have reached out to Dr. Mitchell-Stewart to better understand what happened and apologize for her experience.”
Her attorney, Justin Moore condemns the actions of the bank, but as we know, this type of discrimination in the banking industry is nothing new.
“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 says.
Chase Bank has had a history of discriminating against people of color with most cases ruling in their favor, so we’re interested to see how this one plays out.