A Target store near Houston, Texas is facing a lawsuit filed by a customer over allegations she was discriminated against when she attempted to return an item.
A discrimination lawsuit was recently filed against a Target store in Houston, Texas, over allegations that the store discriminated against a customer, Annie Banerjee, in 2017. According to the suit, Banerjee visited the Galleria-area Target to return a vacuum cleaner. The suit states that when she got home with the vacuum cleaner and opened the package, “rocks, soiled bath towels, and a can of chili in the package, but no vacuum cleaner.”
From there, she immediately returned to the Target store with the vacuum cleaner box, hoping that she could either return it or exchange it for an actual vacuum cleaner. However, she was allegedly met with hostility and said:
“I took the package and my receipt back to the store 90 minutes later. I was asking them to look through the other boxes to see if merchandise was missing. They didn’t want to listen.”
Eventually, store managers called the police to escort her from the store and was “described as Hispanic to the officers.”
According to Randall Kallinen, Banerjee’s attorney, she was discriminated against, especially when she was described as Hispanic. He said, “that makes it discrimination…This is one of the laws passed during the Civil Rights Movement. One of the reasons for African-Americans and other minorities who couldn’t get lodging at hotels.”
Why did the store react the way it did when Banerjee attempted to make a return? Well, according to a statement from Target, the employees initially though Banerjee was attempting to make a fraudulent return. The statement further said that “when told the item couldn’t be returned, Ms. Banerjee became agitated and visibly upset.” Since the incident, the retailer has reached out to her legal team and is attempting to reach an amicable resolution. Additionally, it issued the following statement:
“At Target, we want everyone who shops in our stores to feel valued and respected. In July 2017, Ms. Banerjee came into our Houston Galleria store to return a vacuum she had purchased earlier in the day. We asked Ms. Banerjee to wait while we reviewed past transactions. We didn’t originally see any previous returns of this item, believed it may have been a fraudulent return and told Ms. Banerjee that we wouldn’t be able to return the item. She became agitated and visibly upset, refusing to leave the store without a police escort. We called Houston police, and the dispatcher asked a number of questions in an effort to get the physical description of the guest, including a specific question regarding race. When Ms. Banerjee corrected our team member’s misidentification, they immediately corrected their response to police. Houston police arrived on site as requested and Ms. Banerjee left the property.
We investigated this with our security team afterward and realized that we made a mistake; the product had been tampered with and placed back on the sales floor. We quickly contacted Ms. Banerjee in an attempt to offer an apology and a new vacuum at Target’s expense. We also addressed the return situation with the team members who were involved.
We’ve been in contact with Ms. Banerjee’s legal team over the past two years, but they have not followed up to Target’s outreach. We’re aware of the lawsuit filed today, will review the details and will work with Ms. Banerjee toward an amicable resolution.”