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Montréal, June 14, 2018 - After being offered $50 and then $500 in compensation for being wrongly accused of theft by National Bank employees and detained by four security guards at his workplace, a Black man has taken his bank to the Canadian Human Rights Commission for racial discrimination.

Armstrong Victor has filed a complaint against National Bank, following an incident by bank employees that caused him significant public humiliation and personal hardship.

Victor is a 37-year-old Black man with dreadlocks who worked as a sous-chef at a restaurant in the Quartier Dix30 shopping center in Brossard, a municipality south of Montreal. Upon having returned to his work place following the transaction, Victor was soon thereafter challenged by four security guards who had followed him there. The guards requested that he return to the bank with them for further investigation.

Not wanting to escalate an already-embarrassing situation, he complied with the four security guards' request for him to immediately return to the bank for further investigation.

Upon having been escorted back to the branch by the security guards, Victor learned that the bank clerk and the manager had not reviewed any security footage to support their allegations. Upon doing so, they realized their mistake and Mr. Victor was immediately cleared of any wrongdoings.

Later that day, the bank manager called Victor to apologize and offer him a $50 Visa gift card, which Victor declined, believing that this added insult to injury as he was paraded like a criminal in front of his colleagues, his employer, restaurant customers and the general public. This incident further led to a period of depression and psychological hardship for which he sought medical assistance.

“Being escorted by two guards in front of me and two more behind me out of my workplace and forced to walk back to the bank in broad daylight is the worst thing that ever happened to me,” Victor said.It is a public shaming to impose guilt, humiliation, and a sense of racial inferiority on a Black man that I will not wish on any other person,” he added.

In November 2017, Victor contacted the Office of the National Bank Ombudsman for Clients regarding his treatment, but was told that as per their policy, the Office does not deal with moral injury or non-economic loss.

Following a meeting with a branch representative in March 2018, National Bank once again stated that moral damages were not applicable to his situation and would offer Victor only $500 in compensation.

After the incident, his employer revoked his key (which he had for three years) and he eventually lost his job due to “restructuring.”

Considering this as National Bank placing a low value on the integrity and pride of Black people's lives, he left the meeting and sought out CRARR's help.

“Obviously, National Bank does not show any respect for Black customers and people, and its Ombudsman system lacks both human and racial sensitivity because I was not only treated as a suspect, but as a criminal,” Victor said.

CRARR filed a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission on behalf of Victor last month. It is asking for damages for financial and psychological hardship as a result of racial discrimination, and for remedial measures including the implementation of mandatory anti-discrimination training for National Bank employees; improvements to the Charter of the Office of the National Bank Ombudsman for Clients concerning how it deals with discrimination, profiling, and moral injury; and a full written apology from National Bank.

“For us, it's not only about why Black Lives Matter, but also, why Black Pride Matters,” CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi said. “And for National Bank to put a price tag of $50 or $500 on Black pride and dignity is to simply say that Black lives are of low value,” he said.

“National Bank's President Louis Vachon should publicly apologize to Mr. Victor, ” Niemi added.