Four former CVS “market investigators” filed suit against the pharmacy chain in Manhattan Federal Court on Wednesday, alleging that managers at locations in Manhattan and Queens instructed them to racially profile black and Hispanic shoppers, the New York Daily News reports. The anti-shoplifting security guards were “directed to follow utterly despicable and racist directives. Specifically, they were repeatedly instructed to intentionally target and racially profile black and Hispanic shoppers,” by loss prevention managers Anthony Salvatore and Abdul Selene, the suit alleges. The investigators were all fired after complaining about the discrimination.

According to the suit, CVS store management in New York is institutionally racist: “These black people are always the ones that are the thieves,” Salvatore allegedly said, while Abdul Selene said to “watch the black and Hispanic people to catch more cases,” according to the International Business Times. The four investigators, who are all black or Hispanic, were also subjected to racist verbal abuse from managers themselves. One of the defendants, Kerth Pollack, says that Salvatore told him to “get his black ass back to the store and apologize” after arguing with a store manager.

Similar suits at Barneys and Macy’s received payouts of $525,000 and $625,000, respectively.

(Photo: Ed Yourdun)