Dots clothing store accused of racial profiling against several African American women

Indianapolis– The Indiana Civil Rights Commission’s (ICRC) Deputy Director Akia Haynes announced today that the agency has issued a finding that there is probable cause to believe that three Indianapolis women were wrongfully accused of shoplifting at a Dots clothing store in Indianapolis last year.

An investigation stemming from a series of complaints filed on June 11, 2012 found that upon leaving a Dots clothing store in Indianapolis, three sisters were surrounded by police and questioned after the store’s assistant manager accused the young ladies of shoplifting.

What area police officers responding to the call found, however, was that the young ladies had not removed any merchandise from the store.

“According to the store’s loss prevention policy a staff member is required to witness an individual take or conceal merchandise before taking action,” said Haynes. “Yet a staff member contacted the police without witnessing any of the three ladies concealing merchandise.”

It is important to note that while Dots, LLC could not control the actions of the police responding to the call, which included handcuffing, searching and detaining the young women; they did call the police which led to the treatment.

Following the incident Dots, LLC staff apologized to the young women and sent them each a $75.00 gift card to the store. They also contend that an unidentified customer approached a staff member accusing the sisters of shoplifting.

Based upon the findings of the investigation, probable cause exists that an unlawful discriminatory practice may have occurred. A public hearing is necessary to determine whether a violation of the Indiana Civil Rights Law occurred.

A finding of probable cause does not resolve a civil rights complaint.  Rather, it means the State has concluded its preliminary investigation and determined there is sufficient evidence to support reasonable suspicion that the Indiana Civil Rights Law has been violated. The Indiana Civil Rights Law provides remedies, including compensatory damages and injunctive relief, such as changes in the employer’s policies and training.

The Indiana Civil Rights Commission enforces the Indiana civil rights laws and provides education and services to the public in an effort to ensure equal opportunity for all Hoosiers and visitors to the State of Indiana. For more information, contact Brad Meadows, ICRC Communications Manager, at (317) 232-2651.