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SDM ordered to pay $8000 for racial profiling from shoplifting stop

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  • Oct 11th, 2015 7:48 pm
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SDM ordered to pay $8000 for racial profiling from shoplifting stop

http://www.thestar.com/news/crime/2015/ ... -case.html

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.
37 replies
Deal Addict
Dec 19, 2008
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Should have left it to LP, if they even have them.
Member
Aug 29, 2015
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Different stores have different standards. Some customers at Walmart, Superstore etc put their merchandise into their shopping bags, trolley bags etc.
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Sep 20, 2008
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ditachan wrote: Should have left it to LP, if they even have them.
Loss prevention officers don't have any special powers that a regular employee doesn't have.
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Oct 25, 2009
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Everybody's going to play the race card now days...
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ditachan wrote: Should have left it to LP, if they even have them.
Who says LP would have done anything different?
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Cheap Cat wrote: Who says LP would have done anything different?
Proper training would have prevented the store from actions such as this.
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comolake wrote: Different stores have different standards. Some customers at Walmart, Superstore etc put their merchandise into their shopping bags, trolley bags etc.
Most stores prefer that customers don't put unpaid merchandise in bags, etc that is why they provide shopping carts and baskets. Many have signs telling people to use provided carts/baskets and not their own bags. I would feel to self conscious to put anything in my own bag while shopping. The worst are people with baby strollers who seem to pull unpaid merchandise out of all kinds of spots. You always see them remember something at the last minute and I wouldn't be surprised if lots gets missed that way, even just because they are distracted.
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ditachan wrote: Proper training would have prevented the store from actions such as this.
Racial sensitivity training?
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alkizmo wrote: Racial sensitivity training?
Think bigger
They know that they can't stop someone or search bags unless they saw the act first-hand.
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ditachan wrote: Think bigger
They know that they can't stop someone or search bags unless they saw the act first-hand.
My point was that the fault was "racial profiling". Had this been a white person, there would be no fault, or so the court seems to have decided.... I find that racist in its own way.
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Loss prevention officers don't have special powers, but they do have more training. In this case the employee was in the wrong more so because he did not see her conceal anything or wait for the woman to leave the premises, technically you could let them see you conceal something but no charge can be layed until you go past the cash registers and attempt to leave (at which point there is a clear intent to not pay for the item, otherwise you could have been "carrying" it in a pocket etc.). Some people actually do this intentionally with the goal of extorting money from the store, let LP see them conceal an item and then drop it/leave it somewhere before leaving so that they are stopped or chased, perhaps also hoping to slip and injure themselves in the process as well for more money!

Unfortunately, everything is becoming a legal liability nowadays to the point where it's safer to just plaster video cameras everywhere and call the police after the fact. It's far too easy to end up with a wrongful arrest/sexual assault/excessive use of force or civil tort suit if an employee tries to stop or accuse someone of shoplifting.
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Awesome precedant. Now i can go to stores pretend to shoplift and then ca-ching ca-ching $8000 payday!
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alkizmo wrote: My point was that the fault was "racial profiling". Had this been a white person, there would be no fault, or so the court seems to have decided.... I find that racist in its own way.
Yes and I pointed out that if proper LP policies were followed (if any were present at this store) this may not have happened at all.

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