Ex-worker: Security team at Oak Brook Macy's racially profiles shoppers

A former loss-prevention worker at the Macy's department store at Oakbrook Center says the store racially profiles shoppers, deliberately focusing on those who are Black or Hispanic to see if they are stealing.

Store detectives even had numeric codes to describe the race or ethnicity of shoppers they were following, said Raul Montes Jr. of Chicago.

Montes, who spoke during a Thursday news conference outside the Oak Brook mall, said there was no code for white shoppers.

In response to a request for comment, a Macy's spokesperson said the company stands for diversity, equity and inclusion for customers and workers.

"We have zero tolerance for profiling in our stores as reflected in our Customer Bill of Rights," Julianne Olivo said in a written statement after the news conference. "We welcome, accept and respect every customer and are equally dedicated to creating a shopping experience that is inclusive and free from bias. We take this allegation seriously and are investigating this claim."

Montes is active in social justice causes in Chicago. He said he began working for the store in January but resigned earlier this month because he found the loss-prevention team's practice disturbing.

Montes said he has 15 years of store security experience.

He said training videos used Black actors to portray suspects. He also claims that loss-prevention team members said racist things.

"We're stereotyping African-American people all over again," Montes said.

He said the loss-prevention team uses about 100 cameras inside the store to track people. Montes said he was told management expected the workers to apprehend at least seven people a week.

Montes said he saw a loss-prevention worker refuse to allow a pregnant Black suspect to use the bathroom or use her cellphone.

The worker told the woman, "You're not in Cook County, you are in DuPage County," said Montes, meaning DuPage authorities are tougher on people accused of retail theft than the Cook County state's attorney.

In addition, he said he has a video of a co-worker following a Black man throughout the store, even though the man was a "bona fide" shopper purchasing items.

Radio show host Tio Hardiman, executive director and founder of Violence Interrupters, spoke at the news conference.

Holding up his Macy's credit card, Hardiman said he is a fan and longtime customer. "I'm crazy about Macy's," he said. "But if these allegations are proven to be true, I'll tear up my card.

"I would hate being seen as a code when I walk into a Macy's store."

He said he and Montes have asked to meet with the store manager and Macy's corporate officials.

  The Macy's store at Oakbrook Center in Oak Brook. Susan Sarkauskas/
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.