Nova Scotia

Sobeys boycott to be expanded as grocer drops human rights appeal

Despite Sobeys announcing it would drop its appeal of a ruling by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, a group of churches plans to expand a boycott against the grocer.

Boycott organiser says action will grow unless company acknowledges racial profiling

Sobeys announced Friday it was dropping its appeal of a finding by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission that one of the store's employees racially profiled a black customer. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

One of Canada's largest grocery store chains has withdrawn an appeal of a human rights decision that found an employee discriminated against a black customer, but a group calling for a boycott of Sobeys says that action will continue.

The African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia says the boycott of Sobeys stores in the province will grow to all of Atlantic Canada unless the company acknowledges the problem of racial profiling.

On Friday, the company announced it was dropping its appeal of a finding by the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission that one of the store's employees racially profiled a black customer.

Peter Doucette, the Sobeys Atlantic general manager, said in a statement that the appeal was withdrawn as part of a settlement reached with the human rights commission.

Apology, compensation and training ordered

The commission found that in 2009, an employee at the company's store in Tantallon confronted Andrella David while she was in line waiting to pay for items and accused her of being a known shoplifter.

The board of inquiry ordered David receive a written apology and $21,000 in compensation.

Sobeys said it will also develop staff training.

A Sobeys employee pulled Andrella David out of the line as she waited to buy ice cream. In front of customers and staff, the employee wrongly said David was a 'known shoplifter.' (CBC)

"Sobeys will look for opportunities across its retail network to leverage training materials on racial profiling," said the company's statement.

"Sobeys regrets that this matter has taken so long to come to a conclusion but, from the outset, it has adhered to and respected the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission's complaint process."

Steps don't go far enough

But Rev. Lennett Anderson, the moderator of the African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia, said that doesn't go far enough and he wasn't celebrating Friday's news.

Rev. Lennett Anderson says a boycott of Sobeys by African Nova Scotia churches will expand to all of Atlantic Canada if the company doesn't acknowledge the problem of racial profiling. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

"Yes, they want to issue a cheque to Ms. David and apologize for her hurt feelings. There is nothing of an acknowledgement of their wrongdoing and they will not accept any liability of any racial actions and discriminations," he said.

"This is a slap in the face, it's the most insulting move to date."

450 churches pledge support for boycott

Anderson is currently attending the convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches in Moncton, N.B. He said the 450 churches represented at the gathering support expanding the boycott to include all of Atlantic Canada.

While he was pleased to learn training would be offered to Sobeys employees beyond just the store in Tantallon, Anderson said it would take full acknowledgement from the store that racial profiling took place before the boycott would be called off.

'Never about the money'

Earlier this week, David said she was "humbled and grateful" for the support she's received throughout her case.

"This was never about the money for me; it has always been about the dignity and respect that I deserve," she said.

"I am truly grateful for all of the support I have received from not only my friends and family, but the entire community of Upper Hammonds Plains. I have also felt as support from people in Nova Scotia and around the country since this issue has become public."