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Did a retail employee’s racism lead to your unjust arrest?

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2021 | Employment Law

Those who work in management, loss prevention or security for a retail business have a difficult job. They have to monitor the public and try to identify those who appear nervous or whose behavior seems unusual or inappropriate.

If they spot someone attempting to remove items from the store without paying for them, they might then detain that individual and call the police to have them arrested and charged with a crime. Theoretically, this kind of system allows retailers to protect themselves from massive losses due to theft.

Unfortunately, some people in loss prevention let personal biases and racism influence how they do their jobs. Stereotyping or racial profiling could lead to innocent people getting humiliated and arrested just for shopping like anyone else.

Shoplifting arrest can affect you in many ways

You knew you didn’t have anything in your pocket or your purse when someone tried to stop you for shoplifting, but that didn’t stop you from feeling terrified. Some people develop psychological trauma because of an interaction with store personnel or police that leads to an arrest. Others may suffer social humiliation, especially if someone they know witnesses the incident.

All too often, even those who know they are innocent may feel like they have to plead guilty just to move on with their lives. However, fighting back against shoplifting charges not only protects your reputation but also opens the doorway to hold the business responsible for its violation of your civil rights.

Companies should actively avoid racism in their practices

Racial bias in shoplifting enforcement is a well-known phenomenon. Companies cannot claim ignorance because this issue has been well known and researched for many years.

Any business that expects its managers to interfere in potential shoplifting incidents or that retains loss prevention and security personnel should not only engage in training to minimize racial profiling practices but they should also perform frequent and careful reviews of workers’ performance. This ensures that they don’t allow their internal biases to affect how they do their jobs.

Those negatively impacted by someone at a business whose racist attitudes led to unfair allegations and, later, an arrest could potentially take action against the company for the violation of their civil rights.