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Dr. Malika Mitchell-Stewart had just finished her residency and was ready to deposit her first check from her new job.
But excitement over an impressive milestone quickly turned into outrage after JP Morgan Chase Bank at First Colony Branch in Sugar Land questioned her credentials and refused her service.
On Dec. 18, 2021, Dr. Mitchell-Stewart attempted to deposit a $16,000 check from her new job at Valley Oaks Medical Group, according to ABC 13.
“It was an unfortunate situation. They took my special moment away. I felt like a criminal. I’ve never done anything wrong,” said Mitchell-Stewart. “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. They didn’t respect that. They didn’t respect my credentials.”
Banking while Black
According to the suit, the Chase Bank branch employees accused her of submitting a fraudulent check immediately after she showed it to them.
Justin Moore, who represents Dr. Mitchell-Stewart in the litigation, is a civil rights attorney based in Dallas.
“Dr. Mitchell-Stewart showed proof of identification,” attorney Moore told ABC 13. “She showed proof that she was a doctor by presenting a business card. She even called employees from her medical group to confirm who she was,” he added.
The case highlights the very real concern Black Americans have about #BankingWhileBlack. Despite requiring their employees to undergo diversity training, large banks like JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Citigroup have all faced lawsuits in recent years for discriminating against Black customers, according to a New York Times investigation
To make matters worse, although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids certain businesses from treating Black people differently, banks aren’t included on that list. It’s more difficult to win lawsuits against banks versus other kinds of businesses, but that isn’t stopping attorney Justin Moore from defending his client, Dr. Mitchell-Stewart.
“For her credentials to be questioned and for her to be accused of being a scammer is unforgivable,” Moore posted on Facebook. “Only 3% of physicians are black women, and we as a community need to protect them when instances of blatant discrimination is used to belittle and diminish their status as essential professionals.”