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Racial discrimination: American Banks

If you have not heard, the end of last month brought two separate lawsuits involving claims of racial discrimination at two banking institutions. The suits both involve individual employees, both of whom are black men. If the allegations within these filings are found to be true, Indiana residents should understand that the implication is that race discrimination is alive and well, even at the highest levels of the American financial industry.

The first suit involves a black manager at Bank of America. He says that in his time with the bank, he was subjected to racist policies that attempted to keep black staff in branch locations that serve primarily black customers. He also states that he was fired from his position for complaining about these practices. His suit asks for damages of $10 million or more.

The second suit involves a black employee and is against Cantor Fitzgerald, a leading investment bank. The suit claims that the bank's management condoned racial harassment of minority employees, including making "monkey noises" in the presence of black workers as well as multiple inappropriate racial statements. When the worker suggested that discrimination was preventing him from advancing at the company, he was allegedly told by his manager that he should transfer to another location to "be around his own people." When asked what was meant by that statement, the manager stated "black people." In the end, the employee was fired after making complaints, and is asking to be rehired and given bonuses, back pay and punitive damages.

These two cases demonstrate the pervasive racial discrimination that still exists in American society. While we have certainly come a long way toward racial equality, there are still discriminatory practices and policies at play in all levels of employment.

Source: Reuters, "Former bank employees sue over alleged discrimination," Rebecca Hamilton, July 20, 2012

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