Shoplifting is a constant concern for retail businesses. For as long as consumers have had direct access to merchandise, there have been people who will try to sneak items back out of a business without paying for them while the business is open and other customers are in the shop.
Bigger retailers with more merchandise and larger spaces may be more vulnerable to recurring and organized shoplifting than small merchants with a space that a single employee can consistently monitor. Walmart has some of the biggest stores in the country and is also one of the biggest retail companies in the world. They lose millions of dollars every year to shoplifting and have a notoriously strict approach to deterring theft in their stores.
Unfortunately, racial profiling may have been part of that effort, which is why the company has recently faced a serious discrimination lawsuit.
Profiling can be a form of discrimination
Imagine being a professional who has dedicated years to providing safety services for others, only to wind up accused of breaking the law. That is exactly what happened to one corrections professional while shopping at a Walmart in Georgia.
The customer in question believes that no factor other than the color of his skin and a desire to catch a serial shoplifter pushed the professionals employed at that Walmart to accuse him of shoplifting and to call the police. He was put in handcuffs despite showing that he lacked the identifying marks of the suspect and providing his professional identification.
Afterward, he decided to fight back. He brought a lawsuit against the retail powerhouse, alleging racial profiling and discrimination. While it may be some time before that lawsuit moves through the courts, it could also inspire similar lawsuits by others.
Your race should have nothing to do with enforcement efforts
Security professionals, retail management and loss prevention specialists should all have training in how to identify individuals who present a high risk of shoplifting. These include people carrying unusually large bags and those wearing bulky clothing out of season. Shoppers displaying obvious anxiety or holding many items in their hands without a basket or cart are also red flags.
Someone’s race should not play into the level of suspicion that professionals have. Those racially profiled by businesses could face unfair prosecution, personal embarrassment and reputation damage because of someone else’s biases. As if that weren’t concerning enough, an arrest could mean massive expenses for your defense and could even cost you your job.
Those who believe that they faced unfair treatment, arrest or prosecution because a retailer racially profiled them may potentially have grounds to take legal action. Identifying when bad employee behavior opens a business up to financial liability can help those who have suffered losses because of profiling at a retail shop.