Lawsuit: CVS Told Security Guards To Watch Minority Shoppers

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A year after four former CVS security workers filed a federal lawsuit against the company alleging their supervisors ordered them to keep an eye on minority shoppers at some New York City stores, another former “market investigator” in Brooklyn has levied similar allegations against the pharmacy chain in a new class-action lawsuit. 

The man, who worked for a Brooklyn store from 2012 to 2013, claims he was told by supervisors to target minority customers as possible shoplifters.

According to the lawsuit [PDF], filed in Brooklyn federal court, regional managers instructed the security staff that “There are a lot of black and Spanish people here. Make sure you watch them,” and “when you catch the black people, lock them up. When you catch the Spanish people, lock them up.”

The suit alleges that these directives, along with supervisors’ alleged use of racial slurs when describing the customers created a racially hostile work environment.

At one point, the former employee claims he was told to “watch the black (racial slur) that come in the store.”

That supervisor also allegedly allowed white shoplifters to leave the store, while he would call authorities to arrest alleged minority shoplifters.

In some cases, according to lawsuit, managers directed security officers to falsify reasons to apprehend customers to increase the number of stops and detentions at the store.

A spokesperson for CVS denied the allegations, telling the New York Daily News that the claims “appear to be little more than rehashed allegations filed by the same law firm.”

Three of the four former employees who sued the chain last year, are pursuing their cases in private arbitration, the Daily News reports.

“CVS Health has firm nondiscrimination policies that are rigorously enforced throughout the company,” it said in a statement. “We do not tolerate any practices that discriminate against any of our customers or employees, and our market investigator training explicitly prohibits the profiling of customers.”

This isn’t’ the first time that New York-area retail stores have been accused of targeting minority shoppers, treating them as would-be shoplifters.

In 2013, N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman opened an investigation 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.

EXCLUSIVE: CVS sued for telling store security to target black, Hispanic shoppers [The New York Daily News]