Racial Stereotyping Creates Risks For Managers: Steps To Take To Lower Claims Of Racial Profiling

Three Black women reported that a manager at a Cheesecake Factory in Arizona racially profiled them and falsely accused them of "dining and dashing."

The three women, who work together at the law firm that one of the women owns, paid their $52 bill, plus tip, using a touchless payment option that they had previously used at another Cheesecake Factory. The check included a QR code to access the system.

After they paid and left, they visited in front of the restaurant for a few minutes and then walked to their car. A man, who appeared to be a restaurant manager, followed them and wrote down the license plate number of the car. When one of the women asked what he was doing, he said, "I know what's going on here, it's not a problem. It's cool. I know what's going on here," and walked back into the restaurant.

The women went back into the restaurant to check if there was a problem with their payment, although they knew from the online receipt that their credit card had been charged. The waitress apologized, but the women demanded to see the manager. They spoke to two other managers but were not allowed to talk with the man who wrote down their license plate number.

One of the women, who is a lawyer, asked about their process for checking that people had paid through the touchless system. She said, "You can't racially profile people and assume that because they use your system and paid via your QR code that they're automatically stealing." The Cheesecake Factory has allowed contactless payment since May.

The general manager apologized and gave the women his business card but offered nothing else. He said he would not allow the manager "to come out and publicly humiliate himself."

The women posted about the incident on social media and plan to send a formal letter to the corporate office. Several other Black individuals have said that they were discriminated against by white staff at the same Cheesecake Factory location. Audrey Jensen "3 women say Cheesecake Factory manager racially profiled them, accused them of stealing" azcentral.com (Sep. 21, 2020).

 

 

Commentary

In the above matter, we lack the manager’s side of the story and do not have a fact-finding. What is clear is that the customers are claiming they were racially-profiled and falsely accused and that creates a risk for organizations that serve the public.

Managers must be careful to always question themselves before acting to determine if a stereotype is driving their decision-making.

Second, managers must respond appropriately any time anyone, including customers and contractors, complain of unfair treatment. Never dismiss an individual who is reporting discrimination or harassment. Listen. Let him or her know that you take the issue seriously.

Get all necessary information from the person for a report and assure the person that the organization will investigate. Get the individual’s contact information and keep him or her informed on the process of the investigation in accordance with your policies and procedures.

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