Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Oct. 20, 2020

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Black man sues Wells Fargo, says he was denied service


PORTLAND — A Portland man has accused Wells Fargo bank of discriminating against him, saying a banker refused to open an account for him after learning he was Black.

Paul Dawson filed a lawsuit in Multnomah County on Monday. The “Banking While Black” complaint alleges racial discrimination and seeks injunctive relief from the San Francisco-based bank, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

The complaint says that on March 26, Dawson called Wells Fargo to ask about setting up a bank account. The bank employee asked if Dawson was Black, court documents said. After Dawson told him yes, the employee told Dawson that Wells Fargo “isn’t the bank for you” and hung up, according to documents.

Dawson is seeking $1 in nominal damages, as well as a jury trial. He also is asking Wells Fargo to stop racially discriminating against people.

“In cases of racial discrimination, the focus is not so much what happened to our client, but on impact litigation — getting the company to change its practices,” said Michael Fuller, Dawson’s attorney.

In an email to The Oregonian/OregonLive, Wells Fargo said it was assessing the lawsuit.

“We take allegations of discrimination regarding our customers and employees very seriously. As a financial services company serving diverse communities, we are committed to providing fair and equal access to financial products and services for everyone.

Wells Fargo did not answer questions about whether they had listened to the recording of the phone call, or if the employee had been disciplined.