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Target customer files federal discrimination lawsuit after wrongly accused of stealing

HOUSTON – A woman filed a federal lawsuit against Target after she says she was discriminated against and accused of stealing.

Annie Banerjee, an Indian born Houston immigration attorney, bought what she thought was a $300 brand new Dyson vacuum cleaner from Target on San Felipe Street in the Galleria area. But what she ended up with was a box full of junk, including dirty towels, rocks and a can of chili.

Banerjee said adding insult to injury, the store’s response was surprising when she returned to Target with the receipt.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Banerjee said when she returned to Target , the store manager told her there was nothing they could do, called police and referred to her as a Hispanic woman who needed to be removed from the store because she was trespassing.

“It’s not only if you are rich or poor or whatever. You cannot assume that people of my color are trying to pull one over. You just cannot assume that. This is 2019. Go on facts and not by the color anybody’s skin,” Banerjee said.

Target recently released a surveillance video to Banerjee’s attorney. He said the video is shedding light on the chain of events that led to the discrimination lawsuit being filed.

WHAT DOES THE SURVEILLANCE VIDEO SHOW?

In the newly released security video from inside the store, you see a man with a small child in his shopping cart entering the store. That same man is then seen taking off the anti-theft device on a brand new Dyson vacuum cleaner. Also, in his shopping cart, you see what Banerjee’s attorney calls a “dummy Dyson box,” full of junk, including dirty towels, rocks and a can of chili.

The video shows him placing the dummy box on the floor and paying for some other merchandise before leaving the store. The video also shows an employee wrapping the dummy box with the junk inside with the anti-theft device before putting it back on a store shelf.

“We’re here today to ask Target to do a little training on your employees and to also do better on their inventory process. A Caucasian man stole the vacuum cleaner and Target blamed Annie Banerjee,” said Banerjee’s attorney Randall Kallinen.

WHAT IS TARGET SAYING?

Target sent Banerjee a brand new Dyson vacuum cleaner along with cash for the value of a brand new Dyson vacuum cleaner.

KPRC 2 received this statement from Target spokesperson Danielle Schumann:

“At Target, we want everyone who shops in our stores to feel valued and respected and have been working for a number of years to reach an amicable resolution with Ms. Banerjee on this case. We first contacted her in 2017 to offer an apology and a new vacuum cleaner at our expense, but she would not engage with Target. Additionally, we shared surveillance video with the Houston Police Department, who arrested and charged the man responsible for tampering with vacuum cleaners at Target stores in the Houston area. We remain focused on working toward a reasonable resolution with Ms. Banerjee.”

WHAT’S NEXT?

Banerjee’s attorney said he intends to gather statements from at least three employees, including the store manager.


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