A Black family that alleges they were racially profiled and wrongly accused of shoplifting by a manager at Nike’s Santa Monica store filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Saturday against the athletic apparel company and the former employee.
Joel Stallworth and wife TaMiya Dickerson contend they were accused by white store manager Wendy Magee of stealing a $12 child’s basketball on July 5, 2019, from the Nike store on the Third Street Promenade. Dickerson posted a video on Facebook shortly afterward, showing their infant son Samuel holding the ball in the store. It also shows a copy of the receipt from their purchase of the ball.
A message to Nike seeking comment was not immediately answered, but after the video went viral last year, Nike said in a statement that it had reached out to the couple to “express our deepest apologies.”
Magee was fired, and subsequently filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the company, according to the family’s complaint.
The family’s suit claims Magee followed the Stallworths out of the store and accused them of stealing the basketball. Although the family told the manager they had purchased the ball, she flagged down Santa Monica police officers for help.
Stallworth and Dickerson are heard on the video insisting that they purchased the ball and had a receipt. After showing the receipt to officers, Magee is seen walking away, with Dickerson demanding a refund and an apology, saying they were being racially profiled.
The couple later went back inside the store and returned the ball.
“This seems to be the American way for people like us,” Stallworth wrote in a Facebook post. “This has happened far too many times to me personally. My son, I would hope, will never have to experience this again.”
The complaint seeks unspecified damages for alleged federal and state civil rights violations and attorneys’ fees.
According to the suit, “Nike bears full responsibility for the horrifying and deeply embarrassing ordeal it put this family through.”
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