Target fired a manager at a Michigan store on Monday, two weeks after a black customer was falsely accused of stealing a bikini and then forced to remove her clothing to prove her innocence, according to her attorney.
The development was the latest in a string of discriminatory practices that have dogged the retailer.
Ashanae Davis, 20, was exiting the Southfield, Michigan, store on May 22 when a Target security guard confronted her and claimed that she was wearing a stolen bikini bottom underneath her clothes, Davis’ attorney, Jasmine Rand, said Monday.
A second guard then handcuffed her and dragged her through the store, yelling that she had stolen the bikini, Rand said.
The officers took her to a room. Once inside, a female manager was called in, and Davis was instructed to lift up her shirt and pull down her pants in front of the manager and the two male officers.
Davis said she felt “humiliated and forced” by the Target employees.
“Initially, I was in shock. I couldn’t believe what was going on,” Davis, who lives nearby in the Detroit area, told NBC News. “I was scared — afraid of what was going to happen next.”
Davis and Rand held a press conference on Monday morning in Detroit in which they detailed the incident, adding that Target had not responded to their calls.
Hours later, Target announced that it had fired the manager.
“We want everyone who shops at Target to feel welcomed and respected and take any allegations of mistreatment seriously,” Target said in a statement. “We’re sorry for the actions of our former team member, who created an experience we don’t want any guest to have at Target. Upon reviewing our team’s actions, we terminated the team member who was directly involved.”
The statement added that the retailer would be addressing the matter with the security company that provides guards for the store.
The manager is white, as is one of the security guards. The other guard, who is black, hinted after Davis was allowed to leave that what had happened to her was not unusual, Davis’ attorney said.
“The African-American employee apologized to her and said, ‘This happens all the time,’ and he was afraid he would lose his job” if he didn’t participate, Rand said. “The other two did not apologize at all.”
The incident comes several months after a black man said he was racially profiled at a Target in Waconia, Minnesota . In that encounter, James Edward Wright III said he was told that he couldn’t touch headphones before buying them because an employee was afraid that he would steal them.
Target has also faced questions of discrimination in its hiring practices: In April, the retailer agreed to a $3.7 million settlement in a lawsuit alleging that the company’s criminal background check process was biased against black and Latino applicants.
Rand, a civil rights attorney who has also represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, black teens killed in high-profile shootings, did not immediately respond to a request for comment following Target’s announcement of the manager’s firing.
Earlier, she had said she and co-attorney Maurice Davis were gathering evidence and considering whether to pursue criminal charges.
She said they were looking to sue for discrimination based on race and gender and false arrest, she said.
“Obviously we want them held accountable for the violation of our client’s rights. Really, to me, the person who is most culpable is the manager for letting this happen. She should have been trained to de-escalate the situation,” Rand said.
It was unclear whether the potential lawsuit would proceed following the manager’s termination.
Davis said the encounter has continued to leave her fearful, weeks later.
“Sometimes I have anxiety attacks,” she said. “It’s just very hard for me to enter in stores now.”
Source: NBC News Elizabeth Chuck
Photo Credit: Patch
Photo Credit: Patch