A woman was accused of hiding stolen items inside her shirt at a North Carolina Staples last week, prompting the manager to call for a police officer only to find out the woman is pregnant with twins, WSOC-TV reported.
According to WSOC's report, Sherell Bates was shopping for back to school items at a Staples office supplies retailer in Pineville, N.C. She told WSOC that during her transaction at the register, an officer approached to see what was under her shirt.
"Initially, I thought he was joking, so my response was, 'Twins,’” Bates said. “I'm 34 weeks with twins. I'm having a boy and a girl."
The officer didn't buy the story.
"At that point, to avoid him asking me again, I actually lifted my shirt just a little bit, just to expose my belly, so he could see that I'm just a regular pregnant person buying school supplies,” Bates told WSOC.
Bates said that when confronted, the manager admitted that they asked the officer to investigate her.
Bates said she hopes that Staples will provide sensitivity training to its employees.
On Monday, Staples said it had fired the manager involved in the incident. The following statement was given by the company to WSOC:
“On Friday at our Pineville location a Staples’ manager mistakenly assumed a customer was shoplifting and reported this assumption to a police officer visiting the store. The police officer questioned the customer and quickly confirmed there was no theft. Based on the outcome, Staples’ issued a full refund to the customer.
Staples has since conducted a full investigation into the matter, and determined that the manager in question did not follow correct protocol and also failed to adhere to our existing policy on how to interact with our customers. As a result of this finding, the manager has been terminated and Staples has apologized to the customer. At Staples, we want all customers to feel welcome in our stores, and work with our associates to foster an inclusive culture. As an organization, we would like to apologize to the customer as that was not the case in this instance.”