Class Action Lawsuit Filed Accusing Best Buy of Racially Profiling Customers


Washington, DC: Best Buy Co, the nation's largest electronics retailer, is facing new allegations of discrimination and retaliation after recently agreeing to settle a class-action employment discrimination lawsuit for $10 million.

The new lawsuit accuses Best Buy of widespread racial and ethnic customer profiling in the District of Columbia and Virginia. The suit seeks an end to Best Buy's racial profiling practices in addition to compensation for an Arab American Muslim manager who was fired for protesting the practice.

The case was filed on behalf of Todd Abed, a former Best Buy manager. Mr. Abed accuses Best Buy of terminating his 13-year career because he objected to his district office's "Be On the Look Out" policy, or "BOLO."

Under BOLO, Best Buy employees allegedly circulated e-mails among all managers in the region containing images and descriptions of customers suspected of theft, intended to be posted in their respective stores. According to the complaint, the images and descriptions circulated under BOLO consistently involved racial and ethnic minorities who had done nothing to merit suspicion, accompanied by racially-tinged descriptions such as "bearded Middle Eastern guy who looked shady" or "black ghetto guy."

Abed, a supervisor in charge of loss prevention (e.g., theft), refused to post the discriminatory emails. When this refusal became known to the district staff, they twice denied Abed promotions to General Manager—despite his being the most qualified applicant—and directed Abed's new General Manager to trump up a reason to terminate him, according to the complaint.

The new General Manager, in turn, allegedly told Abed he would create a "paper trail" to have him fired, taunted his religion, sabotaged performance evaluations, placed him under a pretextual disciplinary "Action Plan," and ultimately terminated him for allegedly poor performance.

The lawsuit seeks $1 million in damages and attorneys' fees and costs. Most importantly, Abed seeks a court order permanently ending Best Buy's customer profiling practices, which he believes continue to this day.

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Reader Comments

Posted by
Shirley Dillard
on
December 7, 2015 I was shopping at Best Buy in Chicago, I picked up two ink jets and walked over to the CD section. I pick up a CD and noticed the prices were different on the CD and the section it was in. I approached a sales person, asked her to help me. She asked me where I got the CD and when I walked two feet away to show her thinking she was right behind me I turned to see she was walking away with the white man who was standing behind me to help him. She walked to the back of the store then in another direction with the customer to continue to help him. I was stunned. I looked in her direction she saw me looking at her and raised her her finger and said she would be with me in a moment. I started to look for a manager when another employee walked up to me asked if he could help me (he was black), I told him what happened, he apologized and said he would get the manager. Shortly after a woman walked up to me and I asked her if she was the manager, she said yes, did not introduce herself, nor did she asked me my name. I told her what happened, that I felt I'd be discriminated against and I didn't like the way I was feeling. She stared at me blankly and asked me if I wanted her to scan the CD for the price. By this time the employee I'd asked to help came back to the area and was sitting at a table with another white customer laughing and talking to her. She look over at me and saw me talking to the manager and said "he just asked me a quick question, I told her I'd asked her a quick question also. By this time I'm feeling sick to my stomach. I asked the manager if she was going to speak to her she said she would do it in private. I asked for her name, number to the corporate office, which she gave me with no apology at all.

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