By ArLuther Lee, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Troy Warren #local-all
A teller at a TD Bank in Connecticut refused to allow a Black woman to withdraw $1,000 from her own account, leading to allegations of racism.
The episode at the bank branch in Southington a few weeks ago forced Gwen Samuel to drive to another location to get her money, according to reports.
Samuel, who is a child education advocate and CEO of the Connecticut Parents Union, said she has been a customer at the bank for 16 years.
She needed the funds that day to pay a vendor and verified beforehand that a check she deposited had cleared.
“I go inside, I had my TD Bank card and my license,” Samuel said, according to reports. “They were cordial. I’m not even gonna say they were rude.”
However the teller seemed to take an excessive amount of time to conduct what would normally be a quick transaction.
“She hands me my license and she says, ‘I don’t feel comfortable giving you the money,’” Samuel said. “So, I got confused, so I said, ‘You don’t feel comfortable giving me the money,’” she said. “She said, ‘Well you just deposited the check yesterday.’”
When Samuel explained that her check had already been verified and cleared, the teller surprisingly agreed.
“She said, ‘Oh yeah, it cleared. The money is available. I just don’t feel comfortable giving it to you,’” Samuel said the teller told her, leaving her in complete shock. “I was so hurt and I didn’t want to start crying,” she told WFSB TV.
Samuel said she immediately went outside to the bank’s ATM, where she was able to draw funds from the account without any issues.
From there Samuel said she went to another branch in Bristol, where a different teller handed over the cash without as much as a question.
“I just had to make sure I am not overreacting because we’re in such a racial tense time right now, so I just wanted to give the benefit of the doubt, but that doubt went away when I got the money from the ATM and Bristol,” Samuel told NBC Connecticut.
TD Bank later issued a statement denying any discrimination in its products and services, adding that security protocols prevented the company from explaining the teller’s actions.
“We regret that Ms. Samuel did not have a positive experience, which is what we strive to provide, and that she did not receive a satisfactory explanation regarding her transaction,” the bank said. “We are contacting her to review her transaction and to understand and address her concerns.”
A protest was organized outside the bank on Monday calling for the fair treatment of all customers.
“Even though it happened to me, I don’t want anyone else to have the terrible experience,” Samuel told WFSB. “I just want them to do better. I could pull my money. I could prove that point, but I could also prove that point by trying to work with them.”
During a follow-up conversation with the bank on Tuesday, Samuel said she suggested sensitivity training for its employees.
“I mentioned diversity training, but not their typical training, because clearly it doesn’t work ― at least for this branch in Southington,” Samuel said, according to the HuffPost. “I did state I will get back to them on how I would like this issue to be resolved that promotes both unity and healing as well as accountability.”
Samuel has since filed a complaint with the Federal Reserve and the banking committee of the state General Assembly.
“I want them to be held accountable which they will, one way or another,” Samuel said, according to reports.