Woman Uses 153-Year-Old Civil Law To Sue Bank For Racial Discrimination

Woman Uses 153-Year-Old Civil Law To Sue Bank For Racial Discrimination

Tatiana Denson just wanted to open a business account. But she was shocked by the kind of questions the bank's branch manager asked her, and was gobsmacked when the manager called the cops on her.

Stories of prejudice are pretty rampant in the black community. It isn't uncommon to hear tales of rampant discrimination that any African-American can relate to. Tatiana Denson was also aware of the fact that black people face unnecessary prejudice, which is why she was very careful when she went to PNC Bank in Tampa to meet with a bank manager about opening up a business account. 

Dressed in an appropriate skirt and collared shirt, with her hair pulled back in a tight ponytail because she didn't want her hair to be a distraction, Denson made sure that her attire would help people take her a little more seriously. The 40-year-old knew that it only takes a split second for people to judge you and make their opinion your reality. 


But what Denson faced was blatant racism that threw her out in a funk. The branch manager began interrogating Denson in a 'humiliating' manner, she recalled to TheGrio. "He just kept doing everything to discredit the presentation of my business," said Denson. "I already know again the prejudice that exists, but it seemed like I wasn't good enough to open a business checking account when I had everything I needed?"

The situation then unnecessarily escalated, and the bank manager snatched away Denson's phone as she was recording the racism, and then shouted for someone to call the cops. For many, it would be an embarrassing situation, but for Denson, it only made her feel like she was having an out-of-body experience. She told TheGrio that if it was a young, white woman who wanted to open the banking account, it would go smoothly. 


The humiliation led Denson to lawyer up and get the justice she deserved. Yechezkel Rodal is representing Denson, and this is not the first time he had to represent black bank customers. "I don't refer to it as racism. It's implicit racial bias and a lot of studies [have] been done on this, especially in the law enforcement context where it's not overt racism and it’s even worse," Rodal told TheGrio.

So like any apt lawyer would, Rodal is fighting the case with the Civil Rights Act of 1866, Section. a landmark right that ensured that all citizens of African descent had "the same right that a white citizen has to make and enforce contracts", essentially banning discrimination based on race. This is considered one of America's earliest civil rights law which provided equal protection under the law for black people. 


Denson and Rodal have requested for the surveillance footage of the incident after a letter from PNC Bank denied it as an act of racism. She isn't ready to back out as yet. "I'm a business owner so I took that seriously. And, let's just say I wasn't. I'm still a person. I'm still a human being.”

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