After winning a casino jackpot and not being able to cash in at the bank, one Michigan woman is now suing.
Lizzie Pugh won the jackpot at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort located in Mt. Pleasant, MI, on April 9, The Detroit Free Press reports.
When she took the check to a Fifth Third Bank in Livonia, MI, two days later, she was shocked when employees not only refused to cash in her earnings but cited the check as “fraudulent” and refused to give it back.
“She left the room. She came back and she told me that the check was fraudulent, and she could not give it back to me,” Pugh said, according to The Detroit Free Press. “I’m like, ‘Why? It’s not fraudulent.’ “
"I Was Devastated"
“I couldn’t believe they did that to me,” said Pugh in an interview with the outlet. “I was devastated. I kept asking, ‘How do you know the check is not real?'”
Pugh says she initially entered the bank, planning to open up a checking account with the check that contained her earnings as the first deposit.
After winning at the casino following a trip with her church group, the 71-year-old chose to immediately pay the taxes on the jackpot.
She then pocketed a small amount of cash and took the rest of the funds in the form of a check, which she says contained both the Soaring Eagle logo and her address.
According to Pugh, the information listed on the check was completely identical to what was also listed on her driver’s license.
A Terrifying Transaction
When Pugh refused to leave the bank, the employees threatened to call the police on her.
Furthermore, she says the employees, who she noted were all white, continued to insist that her check was fraudulent, which left her feeling terrified. Ultimately, the method of payment was returned to Pugh who then was able to deposit it at a Chase bank with no issue.
Now, Pugh is bringing forth a lawsuit against the Cincinnati-based financial institution, accusing employees of using race as a reason to not cash her check.
“To think that maybe they would have police coming and running at me – it was humiliating and stressful,” said the retired school teacher. “For someone to just accuse you of stealing? I’m 71 years old. why would I steal a check and try to cash it? I just didn’t think anybody would do that.”
The amount that Pugh is seeking in the suit has not yet been disclosed. However, she credits her niece Yolanda McGee for being the reason she decided to take legal action against the bank.
Pugh is now working alongside Deborah Gordon to demand justice for the way she says she was treated by the Fifth Third Bank employees.
“This is extremely disheartening,” said Gordon to The Detroit Free Press. “It’s really unfortunate these stereotypes continue to exist right here in our metro area.”