A Black female architect in Washington State is claiming she was discriminated against at a KeyBank branch this week when she deposited her paycheck. Trish Doolin said that a banker looked up her company and called her human resources department to make sure she really worked for their and that her check was real.
The 37-year-old who is a job captain of architecture at design firm Nelson, Inc. recently told BuzzFeed News that she just moved to Seattle a few weeks prior to the incident and that her direct-deposit hadn’t taken effect yet.
“I went in, deposited my check, and went about my day,” the Doolin recalled of Wednesday morning.
A few minutes later, the bank called her saying there was a problem and asked her to return to the bank. According to Doolin, she was taken into a cubicle of a white bank manager, identified as Thor Loberg, when she noticed that her design firm’s website was pulled up on his computer.
“He asked my profession, and then asked why the company’s headquarters were in Philadelphia,” she said. “Then he asked if HR could verify that I was an employee there.”
Doolin said the manager then called her HR department and “kept saying it was for the bank’s safety,” and never asked to see her ID. When he couldn’t get hold of her company, Doolin was then told a nine-day hold was going to be placed on her paycheck because her account hadn’t been open for 30 days yet and the bank needed to verify the funds.
“When I realized that I was defending who I was, trying to prove to someone I didn’t know who I was, I knew I was being discriminated against,” Doolin said. “It was just completely demeaning.”
After returning home work later on that afternoon, Doolin called the bank to express her anger of how she was treated earlier that day. Yet, she ended up speaking with a female worker who rejected that racial bias was behind the situation.
“I can assure he is far from racist,” the woman told Doolin. “He would have done that to any other customer.”
However, the woman released Doolin’s funds into her account when she saw that it had been open for 29 days. But for Doolin, the damage had already been done.
“I live in a world where, no matter what’s in my brain or purse, no matter how I wear my hair, no matter how fabulous I look when I walk out the door, I’m still Black,” Doolin said. “People still clutch their purses when I walk past.”
After Doolin’s Facebook status went viral, KeyBank released an official statement defending their policy and denying any racial discrimination:
“As a company, KeyBank values diversity within our organization, our communities and our clients. We do not tolerate discrimination. Client confidentiality means we cannot speak to any specific client’s situation. We can however, describe our Funds Availability Policy regarding client deposits and holds that may be placed on client deposits. Generally speaking and in compliance with applicable law, we advise clients who are new to KeyBank that we may place holds for a short period of time on their deposits during the first 30 days after they open their account with us.”
Doolin told Buzzfeed that said she plans to switch banks this weekend.