PINEVILLE, N.C. (KXAN) — A pregnant woman shopping at a North Carolina Staples was shocked when a store manager allegedly called security on her, believing she was hiding merchandise under her shirt.
Shirell Bates was picking up school supplies for her son Friday afternoon. When she went up to pay, a police officer approached her and asked what was under her shirt.
“Twins,” she responded. When she realized she was being accused of shoplifting, Bates said she pulled up her shirt to show the officer her stomach.
The officer told her the manager had asked him to check her out.
“I wanted to just hide under the blankets, and just crawl under it and just hide from the world,” Bates said. “I felt so ashamed, so humiliated.”
Bates spoke with the manager, who said they’d had a lot of problems with people hiding merchandise in their clothing. The manager gave Bates a full refund on her items and what Bates called a “coerced” apology.
Staples released a statement, saying the manager did not follow protocol and has been fired.
“At Staples, we want all customers to feel welcome in our stores, and work with our associates to foster an inclusive culture,” the statement said. “As an organization, we would like to apologize to the customer as that was not the case in this instance.”