Trish Doolin, an architect recently moved to take a job with Nelson, Inc. in Seattle.
Because she just arrived at the firm, her direct deposit had not been established, so Doolin drove to a branch of KeyBank to deposit her check in person. She deposited the check and then went about her business.
Hours later, she received a call from the bank asking her to return to the branch. A banker who BuzzFeed News identified as Thor Loberg escorted her to a cubicle and began to ask a number of probing questions.
“He asked my profession, and then asked why the company’s headquarters were in Philadelphia,” Doolin said. “Then he asked if HR could verify that I was an employee there.”
At no point did the bank representative ask for Doolin’s ID, she said, but called the company and when he couldn’t get anyone on the phone, told Doolin that KeyBank would have to hold her check for nine days while they “verified 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 told BuzzFeed. “It was just completely demeaning.”
At around 4:30 Wednesday afternoon, Doolin called the bank and spoke to a woman who assured her that Loberg is “far from racist” and that he would have done the same to any customer.
In the end, the customer service representative released Doolin’s check into her account.
“She made sure to tell me that she was sorry that I was ‘having a bad day,’” Doolin said. “At the end of the conversation, she told me, ‘Go have a drink or something.’”
Doolin said the experience has left her raw and hurt.
“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,” she said. “People still clutch their purses when I walk past.”
She said she’s not sure how to tell her employer about the humiliating ordeal.
“When you’re black, you can’t go marching around saying, ‘I’ve been discriminated against.’” she told Tamerra Griffin at BuzzFeed. “It’s that silent pain. You can still hurt, but just don’t do it too loudly.”