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Improving Credit Health After A Claim: Boston Attorney Recommendations – The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston said Tuesday it would establish a $500,000 fund dedicated to diversity initiatives, a move that comes a year after a group of black middle school students said they were subjected to racist comments while on field trip. there.
The museum also said, as part of an agreement with the state, it would do more to engage and support local communities, artists and young people of color, according to Maura Healey, Massachusetts attorney general.
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“Our cultural institutions play an important role in nurturing and providing an inclusive environment for communities and people from all walks of life,” Ms Healey said. “Today’s agreement affirms the experiences of students and teachers from the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy and raises their voices and the voices of local communities of color to help shape change and better understanding.”
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During the field trip, one museum worker was accused of telling students from Davis Academy, “No food, no drink and no watermelon.” After an investigation, the museum said it could not verify the claims. He said an employee recalled telling the students “no food, no drink and no water bottles” were allowed in the galleries.
The black students also said they were picked on by security officers who paid no attention to white students, according to Marvelyne Lamy, the teacher who was guarding the school trip.
One patron at the museum told a female student — who was dancing in an interactive exhibit where visitors were encouraged to move — that she should focus on the exhibit rather than “strip,” Ms. Lamy said. Later, he said, he heard a patron use a vulgarity to say there were too many black students in the museum.
Ms. Lamy and the other escorts felt so uncomfortable that they decided to cut the trip short. Before leaving, they filed a complaint with the museum’s visitor services office about the racism and verbal abuse they said they experienced, according to the museum.
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“For many of them, this is the first time they have experienced racism,” Ms Lamy said. After the tour, the students and teachers discussed responses and appropriate answers they could offer.
Matthew Teitelbaum, the director of the museum, said that the museum has learned a lot over the past year and through an agreement with the Attorney General. After the episode last May, he apologized for the “unacceptable experiences” the students encountered during their visit.
“There is nothing more important to us than making sure everyone feels welcome at the MFA,” Mr Teitelbaum said in a statement on Tuesday. “Whether you walk through the doors of the museum every day, every week, once a year, or just once, everyone is welcome at the M.F.A.
The Museum of Fine Arts is running training for employees and volunteers on unconscious bias and, in response to the incident, has created the new position of senior director of belonging and inclusion. The museum will also implement an anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy, according to Ms Healey’s statement.
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Iván Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights, a Boston-based group that fights discrimination through legal action and advocacy, said the group is grateful to the attorney general for championing civil rights issues.
“This agreement creates a unique blueprint for community engagement and dialogue about the importance of diversity, inclusion, and cultural competence in all cultural and public institutions so that they better reflect and respect the diverse populations they serve, ” he said in a statement.
Ms Lamy and the school’s principal, Arturo Forrest, said the museum’s diversity fund was a good first step and they hoped it would be a lesson to their students that they should stand up for what is right.
But Ms Lamy said she did not think she would be taking students on another field trip to the Museum of Fine Arts. “There are other organizations that I can fully support that would welcome me in without hesitation.”
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Jenny Gross is a general assignment reporter. Before joining the Times, he covered British politics for the Wall Street Journal. More about Jenny Gross
A version of this article appears in print on , Section C, Page 11 of the New York edition with the headline: Museum Creates Diversity Fund in Response to Allegations of Racism. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | SubscribeCitizens Bank, one of the largest regional banks in the country, has agreed to pay a $9 million civil penalty to settle allegations that it violated consumer protection laws in serving some of its credit card customers.
Citizens Bank “failed to properly manage and respond to customer credit card disputes and fraud claims,” according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which filed a lawsuit against the bank in 2020.
“Federal law provides credit cardholders with important rights in challenging transactions and resolving billing errors,” CFPB director Rohit Chopra said in announcing the settlement on Tuesday.
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“The CFPB will be keeping a close eye on the conduct of the credit card industry,” he said, noting that US credit card debt is predicted to soon reach $1 trillion.
The federal Truth in Lending Act requires credit card issuers like Citizens Bank to investigate customer claims, send notices to customers, and, when claims are valid, refund the amount of error or fraud.
But, in its 2020 lawsuit, the CFPB alleged that for a five-year period ending in 2016, Citizens Bank failed to “reasonably investigate and appropriately resolve” billing errors and customer claims of unauthorized use of their credit cards. Credit card holders are legally liable for no more than $50 when their cards are stolen or lost and used by an unauthorized person.
Citizens Bank responded to customer allegations by “making customers jump through unnecessary and burdensome hoops” that were not legally required, according to a press release from the CFPB.
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As an example of such a “circle,” the CFPB pointed to Citizens Bank’s requirement that customers file a sworn statement, known as a “fraud affidavit,” when complaining about billing errors or unauthorized use of their credit cards, and then dismiss complaints summarily without permission. affidavit
Citizens Bank required those affidavits to be notarized and filed under penalty of perjury, the lawsuit said. The bank also required customers to “agree to appear as a witness in court, to testify to the facts stated” in the affidavit, the lawsuit said.
“In a number of cases, Citizens [Bank] automatically denied” the claims of consumers who refused or were unable to complete” the affidavit, the lawsuit said.
Under the terms of the settlement, Citizens Bank, which has already stopped using the fraudulent affidavit, has agreed not to use it again.
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Citizens Bank, in a statement, said the issues cited by the CFPB affected a “very small” number of its 1.2 million credit card customers — about 25,000, or about 2 percent.
Citizens Bank said it “self-identified operational errors” back in 2015, and “contacted the CFPB to report the issues while beginning voluntary remediation efforts.”
“While Citizens continues to disagree with the CFPB’s stance on these longstanding issues, which were self-identified and voluntarily addressed years ago, we are pleased to put this matter behind us ,” said Polly Klane, general counsel of Citizens Bank. .
“We remain proud of our commitment to transparency, our rigorous compliance programs, and our constant effort to treat customers fairly and act responsibly,” the statement said.
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In the 12-page settlement agreement, Citizens Bank said it “neither admits nor denies” the CFPB’s allegations. The settlement agreement requires the approval of a judge in the US District Court in Providence, where the CFPB lawsuit was filed and where Citizens Bank is headquartered.
In addition to the fraud affidavit issue, the CFPB lawsuit alleged that Citizens Bank “failed to consistently reimburse all payments, including finance charges and fees,” when it resolved billing errors and other claims in favor of consumers.
“In many cases Citizens failed to repay the full amount due by… wrongly calculating the amount of finance charges and fees based on the date the dispute was entered into its system of record, rather than when the dispute arose,” the CFPB lawsuit states .
The CFPB’s lawsuit also accused Citizens Bank of consistently failing to send customers written acknowledgment of their billing error claims within 30 days of receipt, and of failing to notify customers when it determined after investigation that there was no billing error.
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Finally, the CFPB lawsuits alleged that Citizens Bank failed to provide referrals to credit counseling organizations. The bank “advised consumers to call a specific toll-free number… but the bank had no policies or procedures in place to ensure its employees provided credit counseling information when customers called the designated phone line.”
“They were directed based on the status of their accounts: customers whose accounts were in good standing were directed to the general customer service department, and consumers whose accounts were delinquent were directed to the collections department,” the lawsuit said. .
The $9 million penalty, if approved by a judge, will be payable to the CFPB’s victim relief fund.
Citizens Bank, with more than $220 billion in assets, operates more than 1,100 branches in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont,
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