It happens at high end retailers like Barney’s, mid-level ones, like Macy’s, and sundry boutiques. That is clear. But having people lurk behind you when you’re on a tampons and cookie dough ice cream run? Come on, son!
And yet, four former CVS store detectives in NYC blew the whistle like Too Short, and filed a class-action lawsuit against the drugstore chain on Wednesday, accusing their bosses of ordering them to target black and Hispanic shoppers, reports the New York Times.
Adding insult to injury, the lawsuit claims that after said employees (who are all Black or Hispanic), complained about the discrimination, they were fired.
The suit says that one of the supervisors, Anthony Salvatore, routinely told subordinates that “black people always are the ones that are the thieves,” and that “lots of Hispanic people steal.” The second supervisor, Abdul Selene, frequently advised detectives, known at CVS as market investigators, to “watch the black and Hispanic people to catch more cases,” the suit said.
The supervisors also subjected the plaintiffs to discriminatory treatment, the suit said. When one plaintiff, Kerth Pollack, got into an argument with a store manager, Mr. Salvatore phoned him and demanded that he “get his black ass back to the store and apologize,” the suit said. A different store manager once instructed another plaintiff, Delbert Sorhaindo, to “hide like a monkey” to avoid being detected by potential shoplifters, the suit said.
After complaining to their superiors about these incidents and others, Kerth Pollack, 41; Delbert Sorhaindo, 26; Lacole Simpson, 32; and Sheree Steele, 46, say they were retaliated agasinst with “increased scrutiny, micromanagement and fabricated performance criticism.” Eventually, all four were fired.
“While there have been many high-profile shop-and-frisk cases filed by customers of large retailers in recent years,” said a lawyer for the plaintiffs, “this is the first time a group of employees has banded together to provide an inside account and expose the blatant racial profiling policy at one of the largest retailers in the world.”
CVS, of course, said it was “shocked” by the allegations through a spokesperson: “We serve all communities and we do not tolerate any policy or practice that discriminates against any group.”