'Hot Mama' responds to claims of racism

7:21 PM, Nov 27, 2013   |    comments
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EDINA, Minn. - Hot Mama prides itself in being a store that empowers moms. But one store manager in Colorado claims the company's anti-theft policy discriminates.

"I read the policy and it just screamed at me off the page because I felt like I was being required to keep an eye on minorities," a manager at a Boulder store said to a Denver TV station.

The manager, who is no longer employed by Hot Mama, took her concerns to the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado. The ACLU sent a letter to the CEO saying the shoplifting policy makes some "subtle and not-so-subtle references to race."

One part asks employees to identify customers "that don't look like the typical Hot Mama shopper." The policy also says shoplifters will "try to make you uncomfortable. They may say "are you following me because of my race?'"

Megan Tamte, CEO and founder of Hot Mama, defended her company.

"We don't discriminate against moms. We want every mom to come into Hot Mama," Tamte said.

The former teacher turned business executive said the policy was created in 2008 just as the company was gaining steam but losing merchandise.

"We got slammed. We got attacked by shoplifters in the Twin Cities. At the time I think we had maybe six stores and we got hundreds and thousands of dollars of merchandise swiped from our stores and quickly had to deal with this idea of shoplifting which was relatively new to us," Tamte said.

Last winter the company reviewed its theft policy and realized their mistake, she said.

"We were like that language does not feel good," Tamte said.

After the review Hot Mama rolled out a new theft policy that eliminated the language. The ACLU and the manager who reached out to them didn't know about it until Tamte told them.

A spokesperson for the ACLU says they reviewed the new policy and they are encouraged and glad to see it.

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