When people talk about the violations of someone’s civil rights, they often refer to issues involving law enforcement, the court system or perhaps the public education system. People tend to think of systemic power systems when picturing a violation of someone’s rights.
However, businesses and individuals can violate people’s civil rights as easily as public institutions can. When they do, they can cause major issues for the members of the public affected by bad behavior, internal biases or inadequate training.
For example, at most retail establishments, staff members are constantly on the lookout for warning signs of shoplifting. Unfortunately, security guards or loss prevention specialists may allow their personal biases and deep-seated racism to influence how they do their job. They may racially profile people within a business despite a lack of any compelling evidence that race plays a role in someone’s statistical likelihood of committing a crime.
How unfair racial profiling hurts people
Racial profiling can damage the individuals involved in multiple ways. First of all, a suspected thief may suffer first-hand injuries when security professionals stop them and they resist. Broken bones, soft tissue injuries and property damage are all possible. Someone facing unlawful detention does have the right to resist arrest, but they may end up hurt when they assert that right in a situation involving store security guards.
Direct injury and property damage are only some of the consequences of racial profiling influencing shoplifting enforcement efforts. If there are other members of the community present when an arrest occurs, the situation could permanently damage someone’s reputation – even if they later prove themselves innocent in a court of law.
An arrest and the subsequent processing through the criminal justice system that it necessitates can also lead to psychological trauma for the person involved. People who have experienced negative consequences because of racial profiling at retailers have started to fight back. Early in 2022, for example, a man racially profiled at a big box retailer in Georgia filed a civil lawsuit against the company for the violation of his civil rights.
Recognizing when mistreatment at a business is an actionable violation of your rights can help you hold businesses accountable for their inappropriate practices for poor hiring choices.