ACLU says Hot Mama’s anti-theft policy targets race; Company denies claim

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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.

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20 comments

  • Lynda

    This is plain outright prejudice. Plus morally wrong and illegal. The public should boycott this store. I know I will never shop there again

  • Michelle

    Wow…I agree Lynda. I will never shop there and would encourage others not to shop there. They clearly do not feel they need the business of people of color!!!!

  • cardsfan78

    Where does it say they are denying goods or services???? It says they are pressuring them by following them around the store because they don’t look like the “typical” shopper…nothing about denying them anything….r a c e b a i t e r s!!!!

  • fast45

    Hmmm … any business has a limited amount of labor expense budgeted. Let’s look at statistics: Which demographics commit the highest percentage of crimes? Check out arrest rates, incarceration records, etc. Now, let’s target whoever might be committing the most theft. Rhonda Fields … weigh in on this issue, if you would please.

  • Richard Pettit

    Prices are inflated to cover the cost of theft. If your only shipping, what is your problem? Most stores have video surveilence plus fl [r monitors. Get over it.

  • milly

    I had many bad experiences just because I’m Hispanic. The egg I made an error when I paid my tab, the supervisor never took a moment to apologized. Is sad that ones value is in the color of the skin and not on personal morals and attitudes.

  • Michael Katz

    How about “ACLU taargets white owned businesses and white lead political entities”. They would say “those are the ones violating things”. THen tha’s all the store is doin!g. I rest my case

  • Michael Katz

    Just read the whole policy. It even addresses employee actions that could be considered theft. Does not mention race at all. It mentions groups and suspicious behavior. They are protecting YOU and honest shoppers from losses from ANY shoplifters. Leave it to ACLU to try to MAKE something racial. Leave it to responders above to outright believe the accusations from race baiters. I’ll feel more comfotable shopping there to know I’m not as likely to be paying for thieves good times..

  • Michelle

    Fast 45 and Eddie…people like you are why people still belive racism exists! White people steal just like every other race and they are all wrong for doing it!

  • Jenny Lange

    Because one unhappy former employee makes a claim it has to be true? This is the problem with our society; we are quick to rush to judgement especially when the race card is thrown in. No need for white guilt people, let the facts emerge first before you jump on the typical discrimination band wagon. So tired of the race game.

  • fast45

    Michelle … I didn’t create the crime stats. Don’t blame me. And, duh, racism does indeed exist although I don’t think it’s racist to respond to facts, nor does this company’s policies constitute racism.

  • shakemyhead@u

    Not really sure if this store is racist in its policies or not, however…

    FAST45 the statistics you are relying on are soooooo inflated do to racism. So funny how people like you wanna believe numbers just because they say “facts”. Looking at history “facts” have been indeed padded to help support racism and make non-whites seem worse. Padding facts and figures and studys is actually a form of racism in it self and racial profiling on a whole different level

  • Justthefactsmamie

    Most of the crime and incarceration statistics are produced by Washington governmental officials many of whom are black and appointed by the President who is guess who _ _ _ _ _. so shake you don’t have anything to back up your claims of false data and if anything the true numbers are even higher as many criminals are never convicted. I guess you even think crime videos are made up in your fairy tail world. Wake up and get educated and quit blaming Whittie for your problems as Bill Cosby would say.

  • shakemyhead@you

    Reality check Justthefacts. America has been falsely accusing AND falsely imprisoning non whites for years. Just because you throw a few black people in the mix in Washington to make it “appear” legit doesen’t mean that it truly is. Could it be that the many “criminals” (used loosely)that you claim are never convicted could truly be innocent? Open YOUR eyes, non whites have been set up to take the fall since slavery. They have been pawns in society for years because they have been made to feel inferior. I never blamed “Whittie” for MY problems (you took Bill Cosby’s words out of context by the way), I’m just speaking on the other side of the coin. For your information the statistcs and data i am referring to ALSO came frome Washington. As far as crime videos…SHUT UP! there are just as many whites caught on camera if not more committing crimes.
    I myself work in undercover racism EVERY time I step into my office so i do believe i am far from a fairytale. Before you try to come at me look at the whole picture. I you sure you are not racist? with the name you chose to comment under one could beg to differ.

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