The following is from a piece published by the Impact Fund written by Lieff Cabraser partner Anne B. Shaver, explaining a recent Ninth Circuit decision to reject an attempt to insulate a bank from liability for admitted citizenship discrimination on standing grounds.

The last few years have brought more and more standing-based challenges to our clients’ ability to have their day in court, with some success – look no further than TransUnion v. Ramirez, for example. Fortunately, the Ninth Circuit just rejected an attempt to insulate a bank from liability for admitted citizenship discrimination on standing grounds.*

Chattopadhyay v. BBVA, 19-cv-01541-JST (N.D. Cal.) is a class action alleging that BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria) discriminates on the basis of citizenship status in violation of 42 U.S.C. 1981 and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 51 et seq. BBVA generally offers customers the ability to open a new account online, but its admitted policy is that non-U.S. citizens (even those, like our clients, who are U.S. residents and possess social security numbers) cannot open an account online. Instead, non-citizens must go into a physical branch to open an account. Obviously, there are many reasons why online banking is preferable, particularly during a pandemic. Further, there is no legitimate reason for this policy: banks commonly use social security numbers to verify identity in online banking, and plenty of other banks allow non-citizens like our clients to open accounts online. BBVA’s claims that non-citizens represent a security threat and are more difficult to identify are based on false and offensive stereotypes, particularly where, as here, they possess the same means of identification as do U.S. citizens.

*Chattopadhyay v. BBVA USA, 21-15017 (9th Cir. October 26, 2021).

To read the full article written by Anne B. Shaver, visit the Impact Fund’s website.

About Anne Shaver

Anne Shaver is a partner in Lieff Cabraser’s San Francisco office with a practice focusing on employment law cases. She has taken a leading role in gender class action lawsuits that challenge business practices and work cultures at some of the largest and most powerful companies in the world, including Google and Goldman Sachs. Her passion for upholding worker rights has most recently been focused on gender discrimination “impact litigation,” where she represents clients seeking to alter core business practices in ways that transform not just individual companies, but entire industries.

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