It’s everybody’s dream to win the lottery or big money while playing a slot machine in a casino. The experience has been a complete nightmare for one Black woman in Michigan. As NBC News reports, Lizzie Pugh, 71, filed a federal lawsuit alleging she was racially discriminated against when she tried to cash her casino jackpot check at a Fifth Third Bank location.
Pugh had won the check from the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant from a slot machine while visiting with her church group. The lawsuit states that three white female employees told her the check was fraudulent when Pugh tried to open a savings account while depositing the check at one of the bank’s Livonia branches. An employee even tried to keep the check.
As Detroit Free Press notes, the check contained Soaring Eagle’s logo and address, Pugh’s name, and the same home address listed on her driver’s license. Pugh’s lawsuit filed on Aug. 29 in U.S. District Court stated the check was good: She got it back after refusing to stand down that day, then drove to a nearby Chase bank and deposited it there. It cleared the following day.
Pugh grew up in Alabama during the Jim Crow era and was reportedly bullied for being the only Black child in school. Undoubtedly, this ordeal was traumatizing and re-opened old wounds.
“To think that maybe they would have police coming and running at me — it was humiliating and stressful,” Pugh said. “For someone to just accuse you of stealing? I’m 71 years old. Why would I steal a check and try to cash it? I just didn’t think anybody would do that.”
A Fifth Third bank spokesperson also provided a statement.
“At Fifth Third, we are committed to fair and responsible banking and prohibit discrimination of any kind. Our employees are trained to help every person with their banking needs — customer or non-customer — while minimizing potential fraud risk.”