8086 – Race Judicata


If store security follows you around because you’re black, can you sue for discrimination?  This case got started when a black woman shopper at a well-known retail chain realized store security were keeping her under surveillance simply because she was black.  She claimed they followed her to the dressing room and were waiting for her when she came out.  She left the store after complaining to the manager.  Another black couple had a similar experience at the same store, claiming when they took their daughter to the dressing room a sales rep. and security guard were outside when they came out.  When they complained, the sales associate snickered and said, “So what?”  The plaintiffs sued claiming that the behavior was race-based surveillance and violated the federal law that provides, “that all persons living in the U.S. have the same rights to make and enforce contracts as is enjoyed by white persons.  But the Court found that racially-based watchfulness, however reprehensible, does not prevent a shopper from making a purchase.  So several Justices dissented, but the majority ruled and because you could still buy it, the Court didn’t buy it.


Gregory v. Dillards, Inc.,  Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, (en banc), No. 05-3910, 5-12-2009, Colloton, J., Vol. 77, No. 44, Pg. 1697 5-19-09