Man falsely accused of stealing from bank says he was targeted because of his race
Published Thursday, June 14, 2018 4:30PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, June 14, 2018 7:18PM EDT
A South Shore man who lost his job after being accused of stealing a bank stamp said he was racially discriminated against and targeted because he’s black.
Armstrong Victor said he stopped at the National Bank in Brossard’s Dix-Trente Shopping Complex on his way to work last October. He said two security guards followed him from the bank to his place of work and accosted him in front of his co-workers.
“’Come with me, come back with me, come give back what you took from the bank,’” said Victor. “At that point, I was real confused… It was quite embarrassing because it was in front of my coworkers and boss.”
The stamp was found in the bank later that day.
Victor said he believes he was singled out because of the colour of his skin.
“I honestly think it happened to me because I’m black,” he said. “I think if it happened to someone from a different background, they would have given them a call. That’s one of the things that bothers me the most about all this.”
National Bank VP of Public Affairs Claude Breton disputed that, saying Victor was identified as someone who might have taken the stanmp.
“We fully understand it’s not acceptable,” he said. “It went too far, but there was no racial discrimination on our side.”
Breton said National Bank is sensitive to issues of racial discrimination, adding that 25 per cent of their workforce is from cultural communities.
“We’ve been hiring so many minorities over the last few years, hearing that makes it worse,” said Breton.
Victor said he believes the bank could take a lesson from Starbucks. In April, an employee at a Philadelphia store called the police on two black customers who were waiting for a meeting. Last week, the company closed all of its branches so employees could undergo anti-bias training.
“I was so depressed, I wanted to give up,” said Victor, who added he’s been undergoing therapy to deal with the trauma. “(The Starbucks story) kind of helped me out, there’s stories like that out there. People need to know this happens in Quebec.”
Since the incident, Victor said he’s met with representatives from the bank several times but no deal involving compensation has been reached. He said he’s taking the case to the Canadian Human Rights Commission to seek moral damages.