Four former employees of CVS stores in New York City have filed a class action lawsuit alleging supervisors at the pharmacy chain regularly told them to target minority shoppers as potential shoplifters.
“Watch that black guy” or “Follow that black guy” were orders allegedly received by one former employee and plaintiff, Kerth Pollack, who worked at CVS for four years under defendant Anthony Salvatore.
Salvatore and Abdul Selene, regional loss prevention managers in Manhattan and Queens respectively, were the “ringleaders of this racist and offensive approach” the plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit. Other plaintiffs included former employees Lacole Simpson, Delbert Sorhaindo and Sheree Steele.
In New York City, CVS employs a “covert team” of detectives within its loss prevention department, which is responsible for preventing theft, according to the lawsuit filed in a New York City federal court Wednesday.
“This team of market investigators functions under racist directives that intentionally target black and Hispanic shoppers,” according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs said they were fired after complaining about the discrimination.
Salvatore allegedly told Sorhaindo, who worked as a market investigator for four years, to racially profile customers.
“Lots of Hispanic people steal there,” Salvatore told Sorhaindo according to the lawsuit.
Both Salvatore and Selene would often point to black individuals as they walked into the store and “predict” they would steal, plaintiffs alleged in the lawsuit.
“Look at that black guy, he looks like he’s going to steal something,” Salvatore and Selene would say, according to plaintiffs.
Their supervisors’ conduct was only the “tip of the iceberg,” plaintiffs alleged, adding that many CVS store managers also engaged in discriminatory conduct.
One CVS store manager, Natia Doe, allegedly told Pollack, who is black, “I thought you were a shoplifter when I first saw you.”
CVS spokeswoman Carolyn Castel said the company doesn’t tolerate discrimination and is “shocked” by the allegations.
With wire services