Discount Chain Pay Half Racially Profiling Non-Whites, Class Action Alleges

A & E Stores, Inc., the Owner of Bolten’s, Strawberries and Pay Half Stores, is Accused of Racially Profiling Non-Whites for Shoplifting
By: Imbesi Christensen
NEW YORK - March 26, 2014 - PRLog -- Imbesi Christensen filed a class action lawsuit Monday on behalf of Ginger Marville, a 24 year old black female, against A & E Stores, Inc., the owner of three large retail chains: Bolten’s; Strawberries; and Pay Half stores, alleging that she was racially profiled and wrongfully accused of stealing merchandise. According to the complaint, not only was Ms. Marville unlawfully detained in a holding room located in the basement of a Manhattan Pay Half store, but her 4 year old daughter was also forced to endure the unlawful detainment in the windowless basement holding room. The class action seeks declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief against A & E Stores, Inc. for targeting African-American and other non-white shoppers for shoplifting and subjecting such shoppers to false accusations, wrongful detention, searches and confiscation of personal property based on their race.

On Friday, November 16, 2013, at approximately 6:00 p.m., Ms. Marville was subjected to heightened surveillance while shopping at the Pay Half department store located at 226 West 125th Street, New York, New York. The complaint alleges that after unsuccessfully attempting to return a pair of shoes that she had previously purchased at the same store, she and her 4 year old daughter continued shopping, and eventually Ms. Marville took clothing into the upstairs dressing room. When she and her daughter took the elevator downstairs, a Pay Half manager accused Ms. Marville of stealing a pair of $35 pants and forced her to an unknown location in the basement.  In the windowless basement holding room, Ms. Marville and her daughter were surrounded by three Pay Half employees, including a male security guard.

The Pay Half employees unlawfully searched Ms. Marville and all of her belongings, but did not locate any merchandise that she was allegedly attempting to steal. Despite her innocence, Pay Half employees insisted that she allow herself to be photographed and sign a false confession. When she refused, Pay Half employees threatened to call the police to arrest her and further, to have her daughter taken to social services.  After Ms. Marville refused to confess because she was innocent, Pay Half called the NYPD and two police officers arrived.

After the police officers confirmed the Pay Half employee’s threat of arrest and delivery of her daughter to social services, Ms. Marville fearfully signed the false confession and allowed herself to be photographed. The police officers then further humiliated Ms. Marville and her daughter by escorting them through the store to the exit.

The lawsuit, brought on behalf of a proposed class of Black, Hispanic and non-White customers, seeks to put an end to the company-wide policies and procedures for stopping, questioning, searching, and detaining store customers based upon their race or national origin.

A & E Stores, Inc., owns approximately 50 Pay Half department stores located in Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Illinois and Wisconsin. 13 Pay Half department stores are located in the State of New York, including 6 stores in Brooklyn, and 3 in the Bronx.

Other shoppers who feel they have suffered discriminatory treatment should contact the law of firm of Imbesi Christensen to join the class action.  The complaint, Ginger Marville, et al. v. A & E Stores, Inc., et al, Index No. 152719/2014, was filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York.

Information requests regarding the lawsuit should be made to:

Jeanne Christensen, Esq.


Imbesi Christensen

450 Seventh Avenue, 14th Floor

New York, NY 10123

Imbesi Christensen
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