California Customers Sue Victoria’s Secret for Racial Profiling

Two Southern California residents are suing Victoria’s Secret for $4 million, alleging they were racially profiled at the clothing chain’s Beverly Center location. The women –  Tammi Robinson and Shaunda McDaniel – allege negligence, false arrest, intentional infliction of emotional distress, slander, and various state law violations. Their lawyers filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The plaintiffs, the complaint alleges, were “shocked and humiliated” to be ejected from the store like criminals. The lawsuit further claims the store’s actions were indicative of a “pervasive racist sentiment,” in which black customers are routinely “treated as suspect.” Victoria’s Secret, on the other hand, claims that appreciating and supporting diversity are among the brand’s core values.

In addition to seeking $2 million each in compensatory and punitive damages, the plaintiffs are also requesting a court order enjoining the company from engaging in any future racial discrimination.

The complaint alleges that McDaniel and Robinson visited the Beverly Center Victoria’s Secret last June for the store’s annual sale. This store is located in a wealthy and predominantly white area. The women were browsing clothing when a white woman and fellow customer allegedly pushed Robinson and shoved McDaniel. When one plaintiff asked for an apology, the customer refused to provide one.

Soon thereafter, a manager arrived to investigate and expressed her intention to call security. The other customer continued to be combative towards the plaintiffs, and the three women were thereafter detained. Another manager then arrived and, according to the complaint, instantly assumed the plaintiffs were at fault because they were black and the other woman was white. The second manager allegedly instructed the plaintiffs to vacate the store immediately, reasoning — without investigation — that they were “in the wrong.”

Adding insult to injury, the suit alleges that the second manager thereafter apologized to the white customer and encouraged her to keep shopping. The complaint concludes that the plaintiffs were “racially profiled as suspect, unwanted, [and] unworthy of being in [the] store.”

This lawsuit adds Victoria’s Secret to a long list of chain retail stores, ranging from Barneys to Urban Outfitters, which have been accused of racially profiling customers. According to a report published last year by the Center for Popular Democracy, the Spanish company Zara has a deeply embedded culture of racial profiling. And last June, several former security guards at CVS in New York filed a lawsuit claiming that they were specifically instructed to profile black and Hispanic customers.

Victoria’s Secret has not yet provided comment.

The personal injury lawyers at the Neumann Law Group represent victims of accidents throughout the Los Angeles area. Call us at (213) 227-0001 for a free consultation.

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