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Chicago Man Files Federal Civil Lawsuit Against U.S. Bank Citing Racism, Redlining

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Only on 2:

Accusations of racism and red-lining at one of the country's biggest banks. A former employee claims U.S. Bank frequently refused to give auto loans to minorities.

CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reports those charges were laid out in a federal civil lawsuit filed Friday.

Fifty-five-year-old John Span spent 24 years at U.S. Bank, his last job as an auto loan underwriter. He said racist comments from co-workers began years ago. One used the n-word and claims a manager stopped by his desk every Friday with this comment:

"Don't beat your wife. And don't go to jail."

Dana Kozlov: And you were the only Black underwriter?

John Span:  The only Black underwriter. Period.

Span said he raised concerns to supervisors with no results. Then, when a new manager took over in 2018, Span said he became a target. Because of his age and because he is Black.

"I was set up," Span said.

Set up and fired a year ago. Now, Span is suing U.S. Bank. But his claims go beyond discrimination. The federal complaint accuses Span's manager at the bank of setting him up to fail by creating and giving him a car dealership territory encompassing Chicago's South Side and suburbs, mostly predominantly minority communities.

"They institutionally created a system and allowed the management of this group to create a system that allowed other underwriters across the Chicagoland area and across the country to avoid approving loans to minorities," said Span's attorney Haskell Garfinkel.

It's a practice known as redlining. Span said co-workers also told him they often refused to approve loans because of an applicant's last name, despite a good credit score.

"If the name sounded Hispanic or if the name sounded Muslim, they would turn that deal down or wouldn't even look at that deal," Span said.

"Until get into the details of the trial, it is going to be almost impossible to quantify how big it really was," Garfinkel said.

In October, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced new measures aimed at cracking down on redlining. A U.S. Bank spokesperson said it takes these accusations very seriously and doesn't condone any type of discrimination.  But the bank hasn't seen the lawsuit and can't comment further.



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