A federal judge has refused to side with a man from Belarus in a lawsuit against the $1.4 billion Polish & Slavic Federal Credit Union in New York.
Andrei Chizh had charged that Brooklyn-based credit union, which has recently branched out into Chicago, had discriminated against him because he was from Belarus.
Chizh had approached the 72,000-member CU in January 2010 to open a savings and checking account but Polish & Slavic declined.
According to court documents, Chizh sued for $120,000 and alleged the experience had forced him to use emergency psychiatric services at a local hospital.
The credit union countered by arguing that Chizh had not presented valid identifying documents, which raised “red flags” with the CU's compliance department, and pointed out that it has members of Belorussian origin.
In her discussion of the case which accompanied the judgment, U.S. District Judge Sandra Townes pointed out that Chizh had brought suit under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act when, in fact, he had not applied for credit.
Chizh, who had represented himself in the case, had argued that since one had to be a member to apply for a credit card or loan, declining to let him join the CU had been tantamount to declining him credit.
But Townes declined to agree, noting in part that “a precondition for credit eligibility is different from an aspect of direct application.
“For example, a bank may require a Social Security number in order to open a line of credit, but applying for a Social Security number is not considered applying for credit, and the rules governing each are different,” the judge said.