Were CVS workers ordered to racially profile shoppers?

June 4, 2015

Four black and Hispanic former CVS store detectives say yes.

Four black and Hispanic former CVS store detectives say yes. They have filed a lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan this week that alleges their bosses ordered them to racially profile black and Hispanic shoppers, subjected minority employees to racist slurs, and subsequently fired them after they complained about practices.

Carolyn Castel, a spokeswoman for CVS Health, said the retail giant would vigorously fight the claim. "We serve all communities and we do not tolerate any policy or practice that discriminates against any group," she said.

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The former employees filed a lawsuit this week and are seeking class-action status. The lawsuit claims "[Supervisors] would give these directions even when there was no indication the black shopper was going to steal anything, and would never give such directions with regard to white shoppers."

The workers allege that the profile directive came from two supervisors in CVS’ loss-prevention department, Anthony Salvatore and Abdul Selene, who were responsible for stores in Manhattan and Queens.

According to the lawsuit, Salvatore told employees “black people always are the ones that are the thieves” and that “lots of Hispanic people steal.” Selene allegedly advised store detectives to “watch the black and Hispanic people to catch more cases.”

 

The claims state that a different manager told one of the plaintiffs to “hide like a monkey” so potential shoplifters would not spot him.

The plaintiffs (Kerth Pollack, 41, Delbert Sorhaindo, 26, Lacole Simpson, 32, and Sheree Steele, 46) allege they were subjected to increased scrutiny, micromanagement, and fabricated performance criticism after complaining about the alleged practices.

“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,” David E. Gottlieb, the plaintiff’s lawyer, told the New York Times.