Bradenton customer feels like she was ‘treated like a thief’ at local clothing store because of the color of her skin


MANATEE COUNTY (WFLA) – Erica Gibson says she felt the need to speak out after the experience she had at a local clothing store last week. The Bradenton native went to Rainbow on Cortez Road to shop, but left humiliated.

When choosing the items she wanted to try on, she was surprised when a manager told her that she was not allowed to bring her purse into the locker room.

Gibson says she has been shopping at Rainbow clothing stores for several years and has never been told she has to leave her wallet at the front desk.

“She peeked around the corner to see what I was doing, then as I walked out of the dressing room she said anything you’re not going to buy, just put it on. on the rack. At this point, I already feel embarrassed because I’m wondering why everything I do, every move I make, has something to say, ”Gibson said.

Gibson says she confronted the manager on leaving.

“I said ‘do you have any policies or bylaws you can show me that say I have to leave my purse with you.’ She replied ‘no our district manager asked and told us that that was the policy and that was what we had to do. “There was no sign that I should leave my purse with it or anything,” Gibson said.

“I felt discriminated against, I felt harassed, I was embarrassed,” Gibson felt she was being treated like a thief because of the color of her skin. “I just felt like she did it because I was black,” she continued.

8 On Your Side called Rainbow Headquarters in New York City for an explanation and a breakdown of the policies in place. The company’s senior vice president explained that stores have a bag control policy for shopping bags and backpacks, but not for handbags or wallets.

Adin C. Goldberg sent us an email response which reads in part:

“We have a policy that customers who enter stores with shopping bags, backpacks or other types of bags must register their bags upon entry. The policy is designed to reduce shrinkage – the loss of goods through, among other things, shoplifting. The Bradenton store has recently experienced significant shrinkage. However, our baggage screening policy does not include handbags containing customer money or credit cards. In this case, the store clerk mistakenly asked the customer to check her purse. It had nothing to do with the race of the customer, but was simply the result of a misunderstanding of the scope of the baggage screening policy.

Our employees receive written and video training on customer service and our non-discrimination policy. We do not tolerate discrimination based on race, color, national origin or other factors. In fact, we are proud that the majority of Rainbow employees, including store management, are either African American or Hispanic / Latino.

Goldberg also said that after receiving the customer’s complaint, the district manager of the company that oversees Tampa Bay area stores spoke to store employees and retrained them on the bag control policy for make sure what happened to Gibson doesn’t happen again.

“It was uncomfortable, it was very uncomfortable. I was very embarrassed, I was humbled, I had never been treated this way before, so I had to say something. I had to voice my opinion, something had to be done, ”Gibson said.


Gladys T. Hensley

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