LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – A clothing store that tailors to mothers has been accused of racial profiling with its shoplifting policies.
The America Civil Liberties Union has accused women’s clothing company “Hot Mama” of discrimination.
“In no way are we discriminating of people who come into our stores,” said store owner Megan Tampte.
Hot Mama has 43 stores nationwide, including three here in Colorado.
The company manual says when dealing with shoplifters “they may ask you, ‘Are you following me because of my race?” and “Don’t make worry about making them feel uncomfortable. The more uncomfortable they become the quicker they leave forever.”
Some shoppers have mixed opinions about the policy,
“I think anybody can be a shoplifter. I don’t think it has to do with race or age or anything else,” said shopper Janet Lucas.
“They just want to keep an eye on them. I think it’s their right to do that,” said shopper Fred Smith.
“Hot Mama’s policy gives the company’s blessing to racial targeting,” the ACLU said.
Tampte said that the shoplifting policy wording changed years ago. She said a former employee sent the old policy to the ACLU.
According to Tampte, her store loses hundreds of thousands of dollars to shoplifters each year. She says when it comes to thieves, race has nothing to do with it.
“We don’t welcome shoplifters, we welcome moms. We’ll take any kinds of moms and we would love to have all the moms in Denver shop in our stores. There would be nothing that would make us happier,” said Tampte.
The ACLU said Hot Mama needs to make changes to its policy.
Tampte said the changes have already been made and that she welcomes input from the ACLU.