A California woman says she was racially profiled and wrongfully accused of stealing by a department store clerk.
Conteh Moore, who is black, said she was shopping May 8 at Macy’s in San Jose when a sales associate accused her of stealing a bottle of cologne, reported KNTV-TV.
Store employees performed an invasive search without her consent, Moore said, but turned up no evidence to back the clerk’s accusation.
“They searched my purse and stripped my sweater off me,” Moore said.
She said the employee made comments that indicated her suspicion was based on racial prejudice.
“She said, ‘People like you have been stealing from Macy’s, stealing stuff,'” Moore said.
Moore said the employee loudly accused her of shoplifting in front of other customers, and she had to wait nearly two hours to speak with a manager about the incident.
“I feel so humiliated, and up until now, I am still feeling the pain,” Moore said.
A Macy’s representative apologized for the incident and told the TV station that racial profiling is prohibited by company policy.
“We apologize,” the company said in a statement. “The situation is currently under investigation and is being reviewed. Macy’s is a company that values acceptance, respect, and integrity and does not tolerate discrimination of any type.”
Legal analyst Steven Clark told KNTV that stores are permitted to search purses and personal bags if they have probable cause to suspect theft, but employees are not permitted to remove a customer’s clothing.
Moore said she intends to pursue legal action against Macy’s.