Sobeys backtracks after boycott threats

The grocery store says it will withdraw its appeal after an employee was found to have racially discriminated against a customer.

Sobeys backtracks after boycott threats
One of Canada’s most prominent grocery store chains has said it will withdraw its appeal of a human rights decision after advocate groups criticized the company’s move.

Last year, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission found that staff at a Sobeys store in Tantallon had racially profiled a black woman when falsely accusing her of being a repeat shoplifter.

Sobeys was ultimately ordered to pay $21,000 to victim Adrealla David and provide her with a written apology. The grocery store chain was also ordered to participate in training related to racial profiling and discrimination.

However, the company went on to appeal the decision which prompted protests from the black community who began calling for a boycott. The outraged response, it seems, has now forced the grocer to revisit its earlier decision.

According to spokesperson Shauna Selig, Sobeys is on the verge of withdrawing its official appeal.
“We have had several discussions with the Human Rights Commission," wrote Selig. "We expect to finalize an overall resolution shortly which will include a withdrawal of our appeal."

While the decision was welcomed by many in the region, Rev. Lennett Anderson – a boycott advocate and member of the African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia – said withdrawing the appeal is not enough.

“We made it very clear to our delegation that we would only boycott until such a time as Sobeys acknowledges the problem of racial discrimination. They have yet to say it exists. There's almost a denial, as if this is in my head,'' she said.

A 2012 research study by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission identified the negative experiences of shoppers from visible minority groups as a significant problem throughout the province.

- Written with contributions from The Canadian Press

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