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Former Workers Say CVS Supervisors Told Them To Racially Profile Minority Shoppers

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Four former store detectives employed by CVS in New York City say their supervisors ordered them to target minority shoppers.

They filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the drugstore on Wednesday. The detectives say they were fired after complaining about the discrimination.

CVS spokeswoman Carolyn Castel says the company doesn't tolerate discrimination and is "shocked" by the allegations.

"CVS Health has firm nondiscrimination policies that it rigorously enforces,'' she wrote. "We serve all communities and we do not tolerate any policy or practice that discriminates against any group.''

Former Workers Say CVS Supervisors Told Them To Racially Profile Minority Shoppers

The lawsuit alleges that the workers' supervisors told them to racially profile black and Hispanic shoppers.

"Across the board, our clients were directed to racially profile customers; to target black and Hispanic shoppers," said their lawyer, David Gottlieb.

It claims CVS intentionally targets and racially profiles shoppers based on the "ill-founded institutional belief ... minority customers are criminals and thieves."

"This is no way to treat employees," Gottlieb added. "This was a horrible experience for them."

The plaintiffs are all either black or Hispanic.

"It's completely insulting, completely offensive for them to be told to racially profile, to target people of their own races as shoplifters," Gottlieb said.

The detectives say they were subjected to increased scrutiny within weeks after complaining to CVS about the episodes.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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