SACRAMENTO -- There have been allegations of racial profiling happening at Sacramento-based grocery stores.
A recently filed lawsuit claims parent company Raley’s, Food Source and Camden Security Services ordered loss prevention security officers to follow African American customers.
The suit also claims some of those officers were put in dangerous situations without backup, as well as punished and sometimes fired when they complained.
"Everyone told me the same thing, 'You have to have thick skin,'" said Candace Alston.
Alston has been working as a loss prevention security officer for two years, most recently with Camden Security Services.
But it’s when she started working at various different Raley's and Food Source stores around Sacramento that Camden contracts with that she says she started to hear racist statements from the store managers.
"One manager told me when I first starting to work in his store, 'Oh, we really have a problem with (expletive) over here. So, just watch them, just watch them,'" Alston told FOX40.
She says those same managers would then tell Alston and other loss prevention officers to follow customers of a specific race.
"They would want us to watch black people specifically," she said.
"Raley’s managers tell them to racially profile the customers," said Alston's attorney, Bryan McCormack. "So, if a black person comes in they’re told to follow them."
McCormack said he now represents three former Camden loss prevention officers in a lawsuit seeking emotional distress and punitive damages, as well as money for lost wages.
All three of his clients were eventually fired after he says they complained about what Raley's managers were having them do.
"You could have a black customer that is dressed very nice and there could be a white customer that is grungy and they’ll be suspicious of the black person and tell them to follow that customer," McCormack said.
Alston said the situation at her job was also getting dangerous.
At a Food Source on Broadway, she said she was often threatened, attacked and even had a gun pulled on her.
"The PD said that they needed to put two or three agents in that store specifically and it was just me," Alston said.
When she says she was asked to work with another officer for safety, she was told no.
"Raley’s didn’t want to pay for that extra body to be in there with me," Alston said. "So, they were saying as a supervisor you should be able to handle this. And even the guy who pulled a gun out at me, he kept returning to the store. He came to the store I’d say about two, three times a week."
Camden Security Services declined to comment on the lawsuit.
A spokesperson for Raley's released the following statement to FOX40 saying:
"Raley’s contracts with Camden Security Services for security services at our stores. The individuals suing are not current or former Raley’s employees. It’s our policy to not discuss specifics of pending lawsuits."
"They are putting together the schedules. They discipline them," Alston said. "They in every way act like an employer and under the law, they share the responsibility they’re considered the employer as well."
The lawsuit also asks that Raley's provides better training for its employers about discrimination practices.
Camden Security Services said it did plan to fight the lawsuit in court.