Sobeys Fights Ruling That Worker Racially Profiled Customer

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Sobeys will appeal a court ruling that an employee racially profiled a customer, as nearly 100 people protested on Monday outside the Nova Scotia store where the event happened.

The grocery chain wants another chance in court, CBC reported, despite the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission’s decision that a store manager discriminated against a customer because of her race.

In 2009, Andrella David was waiting at the Tantallon Sobeys to buy ice cream for her six-year-old daughter when acting assistant manager Jenny Barnhill accused her of being a habitual shoplifter. Barnhill insisted she had security footage of David stealing in the past, according to court documents.

David insisted on seeing the video to prove it wasn’t her. “If you think that’s me, you must think all black people look alike,” she told Barnhill after seeing the video.

The footage was “unclear and of poor quality,” the ruling stated, and “there was no ability to positively identify” David as the shoplifter. Barnhill herself admitted that she didn’t follow company policy, because she hadn’t seen David steal anything that day. “I know what I did was wrong,” Barnhill said. “I know the way I approached her was inappropriate...”

Sobeys maintained Barnhill’s actions were “a good faith effort to prevent theft and loss of product.” But to David, it was “an attack on her race,” the court ruled.

David said she’s used to being followed in retail stores, “as all African Nova Scotians likely are.”

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