News / Halifax

Sobeys ordered to pay $21,000 in racial profiling case of Halifax-area woman

The human rights board decided in Andrella David's favour this fall, and announced a remedy Friday

Protesters gather outside the Sobeys in Upper Tantallon on March 28.

Jeff Harper/Metro

Protesters gather outside the Sobeys in Upper Tantallon on March 28.

A Halifax-area woman who was racially profiled while shopping at a Sobeys store will receive more than $21,000 from the company.

Marion Hill, chair of the independent human rights board of inquiry into Andrella David’s case against Sobeys Group Inc., issued a decision on remedy late Thursday.

"Consumer racial profiling is a significant issue in Nova Scotia most often targeting African Nova Scotians and members of the First Nations communities," Christine Hanson, director of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission said in a release Friday.

"I'm pleased to see that Ms. David's experience has brought awareness to the issue, and the commission looks forward to working with retailers in the coming months to help prevent similar occurrences."

Last October, Hill concluded in her original decision that David of Upper Hammonds Plains had been discriminated against on the basis on her African Nova Scotian race and/or perception of income, when an assistant manager at the Sobeys accused her of shoplifting multiple times in 2009 and said they had her on surveillance tape.

According to the decision, David pointed out physical difference between herself and the woman on the tape, and told the manager “if you think that’s me, you must think all black people look alike.”

The manager mentioned catching someone stealing at Sobeys “not too long ago from Pockwock Road” in reference to a street in the historically black Upper Tantallon community, and referenced “cheque day” when discussing which day of the week David was alleged to have shoplifted.

In her remedy decision, Hill ordered Sobeys to:

- issue a written apology to David for its discriminatory treatment directed towards her

- pay general damages of $21,000 plus 2.55 per cent interest from 2009

- at its own cost, participate in training approved by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission with respect to consumer racial profiling, discrimination based on race, colour, and perceived source of income

- deliver a report to the commission confirming details of the training that has been delivered within two months of completing the training.

Hill also wrote in her decision that the board of inquiry will reserve “jurisdiction on the issue of enforcement” of the remedy. In the event Sobeys does not comply with the remedy order, the board of inquiry will “reconvene to address any outstanding actions.”

Just over a month ago on March 28, more than 100 people gathered outside the Hammonds Plains Road Sobey’s location to protest the company’s recent appeal of the board’s decision in David’s favour.

At the time, a Sobeys spokeswoman told reporters the way the situation was handled “wasn’t appropriate by our employee” but they don’t feel it was “racially motivated.”

More on