A Black physician in Texas and JP Morgan Chase & Co. have reached a settlement ending a racial discrimination claim accusing two bank employees of preventing the doctor from opening a bank account in late 2021.
On June 13, Dr. Malika Mitchell-Stewart filed a notice of settlement in the Southern District of Texas documenting that she was ending her race discrimination lawsuit against the financial institution and two of its bank employees.
Although the notice did not disclose the settlement’s terms, Mitchell-Stewart’s attorney, Paul Stafford of Stafford Moore PLLC said in a statement that it was a “mutually agreeable solution” for both parties. At press time, counsel representing JP Morgan Chase did not share comments.
‘Peculiar Questions’ Lead To A Lawsuit
In December 2021, Mitchell-Stewart visited a Sugarland branch of Chase ready to open an account. After recently completing her residency, Mitchell-Stewart had been hired by Valley Oaks Medical Group. Her new employer gave her a signing bonus of $16,800 which she hoped to deposit.
She said she was excited about depositing her first check from her new job. But things quickly turned sour.
Yet Mitchell-Stewart claimed that two employees, Trupti Patel and Shae Wells, refused to allow her to open a bank account and deposit the check. According to the claim, Mitchell-Stewart’s profession was questioned as well as the authenticity of the check.
“They took my special moment away,” Mitchell-Stewart told KTRK. “I felt like a criminal.”
In the lawsuit, Mitchell-Stewart claimed that Patel and Wells said her check was fraudulent and would not allow her to establish a bank account. According to court documents, Mitchell-Stewart felt “humiliated and treated like a criminal.” In addition, not being able to deposit her check, just days before Christmas, left Mitchell-Stewart feeling “great anxiety.”
Over a week later Mitchell-Stewart returned to the branch to file a complaint. A manager acknowledged that Chase has the right to “refuse service to people without justification” but also shared that she had the right to open the account, deposit the check and wait for funds to be verified.
In February Mitchell-Stewart sued JP Morgan, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA as well as the two branch bank employees. According to NBC News, she was seeking a jury trial and more than $1 million in compensation and damages.