Former employees of CVS Pharmacy are suing the company over claims that their bosses ordered them to racially profile customers and they themselves were subjected to racial discrimination.

The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in Manhattan on Wednesday, alleged that managers at CVS stores in New York City subjected minority employees to racist slurs. It was filed by four Hispanic and black former CVS employees who worked as "store detectives" and claimed to have been subjected to racial slurs and fired for their complaint on discrimination. They used to be assigned in Manhattan and Queens stores.

One of the plaintiff alleged that a supervisor ordered him to "hide like a monkey" so those who steal would not be aware of his presence. Another claimed that when he got into an argument with the manager of the store, the manager phoned him and told him to "get his black ass back to the store and apologize."

Lawyer for the plaintiffs David Gottlieb said that this is not a way to treat employees and described what his clients went through as a horrible experience. The plaintiffs likewise said that CVS retaliated when they complained.

"While there have been many high-profile shop-and-frisk cases filed by customers of large retailers in recent years, this is the first time a group of employees has banded together to provide an inside account and expose the blatant racial profiling policy at one of the largest retailers in the world," Gottlieb said.

The former employees also claimed that their supervisors would direct them to track minority shoppers regardless that there was no indication that these customers would commit theft. Notably, they do not give such directions for white customers.

"(Supervisors) would give these directions even when there was no indication the black shopper was going to steal anything, and would never give such directions with regard to white shoppers," the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit claimed violations of New York Human Rights Law and city law that prohibit employers against racial discrimination.

A spokesperson for CVS said that the company was surprised by the lawsuit and intends to fight the claims. Carolyn Castel said that the company serves all communities and the practice or policy of discrimination against any group is not tolerated by CVS.

Castel also said that the Maryland-based CVS has firm policies against discrimination that it rigorously enforces.

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