CVS Is Facing Multiple Lawsuits for Racial Profiling

March 31st 2016

Lucy Tiven

The crime of "shopping while Black" isn't just a myth—at least not at CVS, according to several former employees of the pharmacy chain. On Tuesday, former CVS security guard Sheldon Thomas filed a discrimination lawsuit against the company in Brooklyn Federal Court. Thomas, whose primary role was to catch shoplifters, alleged that he was given explicit instructions to target Black and Hispanic shoppers.

Thomas, who is Black, reported that a supervisor told him, “When you catch the black people, lock them up,” and, “when you catch the Spanish people, lock them up,” according to the New York Daily News.

This isn't the first time CVS has been sued for racial discrimination—or the second.

During his year-and-five month tenure at the store, Thomas alleged that his supervisor referred to Black customers using the N-word, and habitually let white shoplifters go without arresting them. Sound familiar? Thomas's lawsuit came only a day after two other former CVS employees filed a discrimination suit in the Bronx Supreme Court. The chain also faced a federal discrimination suit from four former employees in 2015 for essentially the exact same reason.

“While there have been many high-profile shop-and-frisk cases filed by customers of large retailers in recent years,” David E. Gottlieb, the plaintiffs' lawyer, told the New York Times at the time the class-action lawsuit was filed, “this is the first time a group of employees has banded together to provide an inside account and expose the blatant racial profiling policy at one of the largest retailers in the world.”

CVS denied this week's allegations, which they said “appear to be little more than rehashed allegations filed by the same law firm.” The above-referenced Gottlieb is also representing Thomas and the two Bronx plaintiffs in their lawsuits against CVS, according to Gothamist.

The Daily News reported that the company issued a statement reading, “we do not tolerate any practices that discriminate against any of our customers or employees, and our market investigator training explicitly prohibits the profiling of customers.”

CVS is not the only retailer guilty of racial discrimination.

As ATTN: has previously reported, a Black man sued Barney's after he was handcuffed and detained after buying a $349 designer belt at the upscale department store.

Craft supply outlet Michaels also recently came under fire when New York Daily News reporter Shaun King tweeted an image of a racial slur in a window display.

Though the store apologized, some customers said they would continue to boycott it until the employee involved was fired.

Since the latest CVS lawsuit broke, at least one Twitter user called for a boycott of the chain, but as of Tuesday evening, there have been no significant social media trends to this effect.

[H/T Jezebel]