Four former CVS workers have filed a federal lawsuit against the company alleging that their supervisors ordered them to keep an eye on minority shoppers in some New York City stores, even when there was no indication that those targeted customers might steal.
The employees worked as theft investigators, and claim in the lawsuit that their bosses routinely instructed them to racially profile black and Hispanic shoppers, though they were never given similar orders when it came to white shoppers, reports the Associated Press.
After the plaintiffs complained about the policy, they say they themselves were watched more within weeks of speaking up, and were eventually fired.
The complaint seeks class status and claims that CVS intentionally targets and racially profiles shoppers based on the “ill-founded institutional belief… minority customers are criminals and thieves.”
A CVS spokeswoman said the company doesn’t tolerate discrimination and is shocked by the allegations.
“CVS Health has firm nondiscrimination policies that it rigorously enforces,” she said. “We serve all communities and we do not tolerate any policy or practice that discriminates against any group.”
In 2013, N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened an investigation in 2013 into the practice of treating non-white customers like shoplifters at Barneys and Macy’s. That led to Barneys agreeing to pay a $525,000 penalty for racial profiling at some of its stores and Macy’s eventually forking over $650,000 for similar allegations.
Ex-Workers Claim CVS Told Them to Watch Minority Shoppers [Associated Press]