SDM ordered to pay $8000 for racial profiling from shoplifting stop
The issue of store employees searching bags comes up here frequently and with a variety of opinions on what a person should do. In this case, the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal determined that the person was stopped due to her race even though she engaged in suspicious behaviour (crouching to open a backpack). The key was the employee didn't see her take anything since she didn't. SDM was ordered to pay $8000 to the victim for racial profiling.
"According to the ruling, she opened her backpack to get out some packaging for a specific mouthwash she wanted to purchase. As she was zipping it back up, she was approached by a store employee who, in “an elevated tone,” asked her to open her backpack. McCarthy initially refused and then, telling the employee she had done nothing wrong, put the backpack on the floor. The employee unzipped it, looked inside, and walked away without apologizing."
"The adjudicator of the tribunal, Ken Bhattacharjee, acknowledged in the ruling that the store is in a high-traffic area and does have a problem with shoplifting. So it was reasonable for the employee, Ujjaijjini Balachandra, to be suspicious of someone crouching on the floor and zipping up a bag.
However, Balachandra went beyond suspicion to a “strong belief” that McCarthy had put something in her bag — a belief she could not explain the basis for and which was “completely illogical,” given that she did not see McCarthy put anything in her bag, Bhattacharjee wrote."
I wonder what the implications will be for store staff in the future when it comes to stopping people.