November 26, 2013
DENVER – Hot Mama, a national retail chain with three locations in Colorado, 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, according to a complaint sent today by the ACLU of Colorado to the chain’s headquarters.
The store’s written 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.”
“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. “Instead, with subtle and not-so-subtle innuendo, Hot Mama provides encouragement to employees who bring their racial prejudices and stereotypes to the job. Hot Mama’s policy gives the company’s blessing to racial targeting that is forbidden by state and federal anti-discrimination law.”
The ACLU of Colorado learned of the policy from a former Hot Mama manager, who questioned upper management about the racial component of the policy and was told that it was drafted as a response to “problems with black gangs” in Minnesota, where the company is headquartered.
According to Colorado law, it is illegal to refuse or deny a person “the full and equal enjoyment of goods and services” at a public place of accommodation because of race or color.
The ACLU’s letter, which was sent to Megan Tamte, CEO of Hot Mama, urges the company to “rescind its discriminatory policy and initiate company-wide training to ensure that Hot Mama employees no longer rely on race in dealing with customers.” A response is requested on or before December 13.
Visit the case page: http://aclu-co.org/case/hot-mama-theft-mitigation-policy
For the Hot Mama Theft Mitigation Policy: http://aclu-co.orghttp://aclu-co.org/sites/default/files/Hot%20Mama%20Theft%20Mitigation%20policy%20(2).pdf