Employee Involved in Discrimination Incident 'No Longer Working' at CU
A Sound Credit Union employee who allegedly discriminated against a black Muslim woman that ignited a social media firestorm is no longer with the Tacoma, Wash-based cooperative.
The $1.4 billion Sound CU posted its announcement on Facebook Monday night, but it did not say whether the employee resigned or was fired.
On May 5, Jamela Mohamed recorded a discrimination incident at the credit union’s Kent branch, which drew hundreds of thousands of comments from outraged Facebook users. Many of them demanded that the employee involved be fired immediately, in part, because of the way she angrily confronted Mohamed, threatened to call police and followed her out to the credit union’s parking lot.
Mohamed said she was discriminated against because she was asked to remove her headpiece, but her video showed at least two men in the branch who were wearing baseball caps. It’s unknown whether they removed their hats when they were served by tellers or were asked by tellers to comply with the credit union’s policy of not wearing hoods, hats or sunglasses for “safety reasons.”
Mohamed's video drew nearly a million views and thousands of comments from Facebook users.
“We’ve heard your feedback and concerns regarding a video and interaction that occurred at our Kent Branch last week—and we’ve looked into the situation further,” Sound’s statement reads. “The interaction was handled poorly and illustrated an episode where we did not live up to our Service Promise—to make all members feel welcomed and valued. This example is not what represents us as a company. To Ms. Mohamed, we sincerely apologize for the way you were treated. The employee involved is no longer with the credit union.”
Although 40 people commented on Sound’s statement on Facebook, it does not allow you to see all of the comments posted. After clicking on “view all comments” link only seven comments appear and all but one of them were positive comments as of 2 p.m. eastern time.
“Thanks for responding quickly and appropriately,” Monet Gilreath Hardin wrote.
Nick Kimmer wrote: “Sound Credit Union thank you for doing what's right, and valuing all members. I've been with you since I first opened a checking account.”
“Abt time…” Dae Cunningham wrote.
When contacted by the CU Times about this, Sound CU declined further comment saying it was only releasing its May 15 statement.
The credit union posted its new statement at about 6 p.m., west coast time.
Mohamed did not respond to a CU Times request seeking comment.
More than 10 days ago, Mohamed walked into the Kent branch credit union to pay a bill. She was wearing a hood because Mohamed said she was observing Jummah, a congregational prayer that Muslims hold every Friday around noontime. A teller asked her to take off her hood because of the credit union’s policy.
Mohamed said she ran outside to retrieve her hijab, a traditional scarf worn by Muslim women to cover the hair and neck and sometimes the face.
However, after she returned to the branch, Mohamed began taking a video with her smartphone, presumably, because she said two men who were wearing hats were served by tellers with no issues. The video that Mohamed posted shows one man wearing a baseball cap walking out of the branch, and another man, also wearing a baseball cap, standing in line. It is unknown whether the men took off their hats while being served by tellers, or whether they had been asked by tellers to remove their hats.
Sound CU did not address this issue in its new statement.
Mohamed wrote on a Facebook post that included her video of the events that followed:
“Then I confronted the teller and he told me ‘it should be no issue, let me get my supervisor for permission.’”
“If you don’t take your hood off, I’m calling 9-1-1,” an unidentified Sound CU supervisor stated with a raised voice, standing a few feet from Mohamed.
“Can I go ahead and get my money back?” Mohamed asked.
The supervisor ignored her question and stated, again, with a raised, voice, “1, 2, and 3.” The supervisor then slapped her hand on the teller counter and walked back to a desk to call police.
“And what’s the reason why you’re calling 9-1-1?” Mohamed asked as the supervisor was walking back to a desk. The supervisor also made other comments that were unintelligible.
With her smartphone recording the incident, Mohamed walked back to where the supervisor was standing behind a desk making a call.
“I wanted to know that supervisor’s name,” Mohamed said.
When Mohamed walked up to the desk, the supervisor, pointing her finger at Mohamed, said. “You have to take your hood off.”
“What’s your name?’ Mohamed asked.
“My name is Suzanne,” the supervisor said.
“OK. Thank You, Suzanne,” Mohamed said.
The next part of the video shows Mohamed in her car crying. She claimed the supervisor “came outside after me.”
“[She] literally followed me outside and I feel so embarrassed right now,” said a weeping Mohamed. “And there she is.”
Mohamed stepped out of her car and shouted out to the supervisor, “Ma’am, am I endangering your safety? Am I endangering your safety?”
To view Jamela Mohamed’s video, go to her Facebook page.
In its statement, Sound CU said it is working to ensure this incident never happens again.
“We’re continuing to work to become better by enhancing our training and improving our procedures and signage to be more clear and understandable,” Sound CU said. We’ve met with community leaders and we continue to reach out. As a local credit union, we deeply value the communities we serve. We are committed to making sure everyone feels welcome.”