A woman has accused H&M, a popular clothing chain, of racial profiling in an incident at Pembroke Lakes Mall in which she says the store’s security guards falsely accused her of stealing a pair of earrings and berated her in front of customers.
At a press conference held Tuesday at her lawyer’s Plantation office, Daniela Taylor, 32, a mother of two, said she was returning items and making a purchase at the store on Tuesday, Sept. 25.
After the transaction, the guards followed her outside the store and to a nearby kiosk selling phone cases, where she said they accused her of stealing the earrings.
Jasmine Rand, her attorney, said because Taylor had returned a pair of earrings and bought another pair, security thought she returned one and was stealing another.
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The earrings cost less than $10.
“I was confused, what did I do?” said Taylor, who is African American.
The guards grabbed her bag, phone and took her back to H&M, Taylor said, calling her a thief in front of customers.
When the loss prevention officers reviewed the security footage, the cameras revealed that Taylor did not steal anything, Rand said.
H&M did not comment about the alleged incident.
Rand called the case racial profiling.
She said the security guards and the cashier, who checked out Taylor and told the guards she had stolen the earrings, convicted Taylor of theft without proof.
Rand says this is not H&M’s first case of being accused of racism.
“You played the race card when you put a little black boy in a hoodie,” she said, alluding to the controversy surrounding the retailer in January, when an ad appeared on its website of a black boy wearing a green hoodie, with the phrase, “Coolest monkey in the jungle.”
H&M removed the image and apologized after hundreds of social media users accused the retailer of being racist.
In 2014, a 59-year-old African-American grandmother in Oregon was awarded more than $100,000 in damages after a jury found the retailer falsely arrested her for shoplifting at an Oregon H&M store.
Taylor, who is seeking undisclosed compensation from the retailer although she hasn’t sued the company, says she was falsely accused of theft and security guards committed battery on her.
While she was in the office, she said the guards told her, “Don’t bring race into this.”
H&M released a statement on Wednesday. It said: “We are aware of the incident that took place in our Pembroke Lakes Mall location. Unfortunately, this was a misunderstanding and we are sorry. We have since let go of the third-party security company that was involved and we are reviewing our internal procedures to make sure this type of incident does not happen again and that our routines are properly followed. We have been in touch with the customer to follow up on the steps we have taken.”