DENVER -- A national retail chain is encouraging employees to follow non-white customers around the store and make them feel uncomfortable as part of an anti-theft guideline, the ACLU alleged Tuesday.
The store, Hot Mama, has three locations in Colorado.
According to a complaint sent by the ACLU of Colorado to Hot Mama's corporate headquarters, the company's policy encourages employees to rely on race as a factor in a Theft Mitigation Policy that instructs them to target “potential thieves” that do not “look like the typical Hot Mama shopper.” The company’s policy further instructs employees to follow these “potential thieves” throughout the store to make them feel so uncomfortable that they leave and never return.
A former Hot Mama manager told the ACLU about the practice after their complaints to upper management went ignored.
TONIGHT: Investigative reporter Tak Landrock speaks exclusively with the manager who leaked the policy to the ACLU. Tonight at 5.
“A retail business has an obligation to train its employees that race is not a proper consideration in identifying and targeting potential shoplifters,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein in a statement.
According to the store’s written policy provided by the source, the policy acknowledges that some customers will ask “Are you following me because of my race”? The policy advises employees, “Don’t worry about making them uncomfortable.” According to the policy, “That is your goal in this situation. The more uncomfortable they become, the quicker they leave… forever.”
Hot Mama founder and CEO Megan Tamte denied any practice of racial targeting. Tamte said the manager who leaked the policy no longer works for the company.
"Unfortunately, the information that a former (and unhappy) Hot Mama manager gave you is incorrect," Tamte said in a statement. "You [the ACLU] do not have the right information."
Tamte said the company's Theft and Mitigation Policy was updated in March 2013.
In Colorado it's illegal to deny good or services because of race.AlertMe