CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) — A major grocery chain is promising to change its policies after a customer claims she was harassed by an employee because of the color of her skin.
It happened at the Raley’s store in Citrus Heights. The woman says she was falsely accused of shoplifting and then confronted by police.
“I was definitely racially profiled,” said Zhalisa Clarke, “I was really surprised that this is still happening in 2018.”
Clarke, a Bay Area woman and Harvard graduate, says it happened on her way out of state for a tour of national parks. During a pit stop, she and a friend stopped at the Raley’s in Citrus Heights to stock up.
“We bought a lot of groceries. Including a cooler and lots of food.”
A vegan, Clarke spent some time looking for specific items in the deli meat section when a cashier suspected she was stealing, notified a manager and then called police.
“I realize it’s on the news all the time but it just gets a lot more personal when it happens to you,” she said.
Spending more than $200, Clarke checked out and as she loaded groceries into her car, police pulled up.
“This is not right, this is not right like why, why, why did this happen,” she said.
Officers checked Clarke’s receipt, comparing every item in it with the items in her car. She says they then went through the camping gear in the trunk of her car.
“I mean I feel completely violated,” she said.
Citrus Heights Police Lt. David Gutierrez said, “That is common practice for them to do that in a theft investigation.”
Nothing stolen was found and Clarke was left in shock.
“It does not matter where you went to school, it does not matter what job you have. What matters is the color of your skin apparently when you’re grocery shopping,” said Clarke.
Clarke reached out to Raley’s demanding change and company officials say they’ve listened. As of this month, a statement on their website reads: “Annually, all employees will be required to take diversity and inclusion training including a focus on explicit and implicit bias.”
“It’s a sad, sad state of affairs in the world today,” said Clarke.
She says she was told the store employee broke company policy by calling police even after a manager had cleared the shoplifting suspicion. That employee has been terminated.