Four African American employees of CVS have filed a lawsuit against their former employer for forcing them to racially profile minorities. According to the New York Daily News, Sheree Steele, Lacole Simpson, Kerth Polock, and Delbert Sorhaindo were told by regional loss managers to focus specifically on black and Hispanic shoppers.
The suit claims that the four were instructed to:
“…follow utterly despicable and racist directives. Specifically, they were repeatedly instructed to intentionally target and racially profile black and Hispanic shoppers.”
The documents filed identified the managers who allegedly implemented the racist polices as Anthony Salvatore and Abdul Selene. According to the report by the New York Daily News, Salvatore allegedly stated, “These black people are always the ones that are the thieves.” Salvatore assigned employees to stores based on statements such as:
“Lots of Hispanic people steal there… There are a lot of crack heads that are usually stealing at that store.”
The plaintiffs also stated that, while they were instructed to racially profile, they were themselves victims of racism. After complaining about the culture and environment of CVS, the plaintiffs stated that they were all fired. CVS has yet to issue a statement.
The New York Daily News described the situation as the “shop and frisk mentality” and compared it to the 2013 Barneys case where a black customer said she was profiled for stealing an item she had purchased.
Racial profiling in stores is nothing new for many African Americans. It is often a direct result of shop owners viewing blacks through the lens of criminality with which the media saturates the nation. While this issue is just beginning, it may reveal the systemic nature of the profiling that occurs in chains across the nation.