A sign on the front door reads "No hats, no hoods, no sunglasses," and when a woman of the Muslim faith tried to enter in traditional garb...
"We certainly understand the intent behind the policy," said Jillian Holzbauer of the Council on American Islamic Relations which wrote a letter to Valley National Bank on behalf of a woman who "expressed concern that she was a victim of discrimination because of her religious head scarf," when she was denied entry without an escort.
Bank officials declined an on camera interview, by replied to the Muslim organization. "I would like to officially apologize to (Ms. X) for not feeling welcome in our bank," wrote the bank president, Brad Scrivner. "It is a sad truth that recently, in banks across the United States, criminals are using false religious headdresses for the sole purpose of hiding their identity," he wrote.
Google "Muslim Dress Bank Robbery" and stories pop up of five robberies in the Philadelphia area between December and April of criminals doing just that. But does that warrant a bank in T-town saying, in essence, 'You can come in as long as we escort you?'
"At that point she was feeling very uncomfortable and unwelcome," said Holzbauer.
Valley National states "We do not want (Ms. X) to feel unwelcome or discriminated against."
"Regardless of what the intent is though, it's singling out specific customers for discrimination," said Holzbauer.
The fine line of diligence versus discrimination. A matter of peak societal interest down at the Valley.
"Ask them to review and revise that policy in order to create an environment that is welcoming to all customers of all faiths," said Holzbauer.