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Prof. India Thusi Comments on Department Store’s Settlement of Racial Discrimination Claims

Prof. India Thusi

“The fact that the top lawyer of Massachusetts saw fit to look into potentially discriminatory policies at Lord & Taylor is notable, and something that all retailers should take note of,” commented California Western’s Prof. India Thusi in a recent article covering the department store’s settlement of a racial discrimination claim.

Lord & Taylor has agreed to pay $100,000 to settle an investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General into racial discrimination, stated the article published on

The department store, owned by Hudson's Bay Co., will also hire a consultant to review and address its shoplifting prevention procedures and train staff, according to Attorney General Maura Healey's office.

"Race is a difficult topic for people regardless of who they are," Prof. Thusi told Retail Dive in an interview. "Middle-level managers might have difficulty coming out and saying it — but now more than ever it's really important that we do come out and say it. An inability to talk about race and people's differences is getting in the way — if you're a retailer your customers come into this environment, and your employees work in this environment."

The Attorney General investigated all four Lord & Taylor stores in the state — in Boston, Braintree, Burlington, and Natick — after concerns arose that its theft prevention policies "perpetuated a climate of racial and ethnic bias resulting in, among other things, the disproportionate targeting of black and Hispanic customers for surveillance and apprehension."

Training staff to recognize their potential for "implicit bias," an unconscious attitude that could lead to unfairly single out a customer based on their race, is helpful, Prof. Thusi added. But retailers must also forge explicit policies to prevent unfair treatment, and too many don't have such procedures, she also said.

Read the complete article here: