TJ Maxx apologizes after local family racially targeted

Posted at 3:13 PM, Jul 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-26 17:13:38-04

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    WETHERSFIELD, CT (WFSB) — A local family claims they were racially targeted while shopping at an area TJ Maxx.

The Askew-Ferris family says it learned an employee at the Wethersfield store falsely identified a member of their family for another young black man for stealing.

Melissa Askew-Ferris said the incident took place earlier this month at the TJ Maxx on the Silas Deanne Highway in Wethersfield.

“To have this actually happen now, now I worry about not being in the store with them. I want to be there,” Askew-Ferris said.

Askew-Ferris told Eyewitness News about how other customers heard employees talking about her three sons and following them. Her sons immediately left.

Later, the family had learned an employee had wrongfully identified one of the boys for another person who was seen stealing just before their visit.

Videotape of the incident shows the two boys shared no resemblance.

Askew-Ferris is a school psychologist and later called corporate multiple times following the incident.

That’s when she called Eyewitness News. Stunned by what happened, the family wanted more than just an apology.

They wanted the store to undergo some sort of cultural diversity training.

TJ Maxx released a statement saying, “We take this customer’s concerns very seriously and expect that all of our customers will be treated with dignity and respect when shopping in our stores. We have spoken with our customer to sincerely apologize that this was not the experience of her and her family.”

The spokesperson for the store also confirmed all employees would undergo unconscious bias training.

Overall, the family says TJ Maxx did the right thing, but said the incident is larger than them and part of a larger conversation.

“I’m not going to generalize all TJ Maxx’s just like how they shouldn’t generalize people of color,” said Dakarai Ferris.

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