Complainant filed against Western Union for alleged discrimination

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — A complainant against Western Union was filed by Dearborn resident Haidar Abdallah, 39, and the Arab American Civil Rights League Dec. 21 following an alleged racial profiling incident.

Abdallah claims he was denied the ability to send hundreds of dollars overseas to Palestine where his wife and children live.

He said the two incidents occurred at two different Western Union offices in Dearborn when he wanted to send money to Ramallah, but had no issue sending to Jerusalem.

A user of Western Union since 2009, Abdallah said he hadn’t been stopped from sending funds because of a limit until recently when his $300 to $400 transfers were rejected.

“I’m born and raised in the United States and have family members living and visiting overseas,” he said. “I’ve have never had an issue or have never been arrested or had a felony.”

He also said Western Union has not given him a reason why his transfers were blocked even after he contacted the company.

Abdallah’s incidents are two of multiple complaints the ACRL has received from other people denied the ability to send funds to the Middle East.

The ACRL contacted Western Union by sending a letter, but has not received a response. Arab American Civil Rights League founder Nabih Ayad suggested that the company is singling out Middle Eastern customers.

“We have one of the largest Arab American communities in the county right here in our state and Western Union should know that,” Ayad said. “Customers should not be denied services based on their religion, ethnicity or culture. It’s unconstitutional.”

The money transfer service declined to comment on the lawsuit specifically, but released a statement via email:
“As a regulated business, Western Union maintains strict controls to comply with regulations in each country it operates. This includes customer verification, when sending and receiving money. While we cannot provide specific information on any one customer, due to privacy rules, we are looking into the matter. At Western Union, we value our customers and the diversity they represent.”

Since the money transfer denials, Abdallah switched from Western Union to MoneyGram. The ACRL said it will file a lawsuit if the similar incidents continue.

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)

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