ST. LOUIS – Nordstrom’s top executives visited St. Louis Tuesday to apologize to three teens who say they were the victims of racial profiling at the company’s Brentwood store.
The private meeting took place just after 3 p.m. at the Hilton Airport Hotel. The executives met with the teens, their families, and Adolphus Pruitt II, head of the St. Louis NAACP.
Before the gettogether, the mood was different.
“I was nervous, embarrassed, and humiliated,” said Mekhi Lee.
Lee and two friends were at the Nordstrom Rack last Thursday. He said they were followed around the store and one customer was rude to them.
Lee said they made their purchases and left. However, someone in the store called Brentwood police, who stopped the trio outside, checked them out and found they had done nothing wrong.
The teens went back to the store to talk with the manager. That’s when they said the employees became rude.
“They were rude to us by not letting us talking to the manager and said we can only talk to the police,” Lee said.
Blake Nordstrom, co-president of Nordstrom, and Geevy Thomas, president of Nordstrom Rack, flew to St. Louis to apologize to the teenagers in person.
Mekhi said he’s not bringing the issue to light for monetary gain, he just wants a better world.
“I don’t want them to fire anyone…I want them to teach them and make this a teaching moment and everybody move forward and get better,” he said.
Nordstrom issued the following statement late Tuesday afternoon, following the meeting:
Recently there was a situation in one of our Rack stores that resulted in our employees calling the police. We have guidelines that direct our employees to only call the police in emergency situations. Unfortunately, those guidelines weren’t followed. As soon as we became aware of the incident, Geevy Thomas, president of Nordstrom Rack, reached out to each of the impacted families to offer our sincere apologies, listen to their concerns and express our extreme disappointment that this situation occurred.
Today, Geevy met with the young men and their families to learn more about their experience and discuss how we can improve both in St. Louis and across the country.
Nordstrom is committed to creating a welcoming and respectful environment for our customers and our employees. We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind.
“I feel fortunate to have met these young men and their families. I appreciate the opportunity to listen to their concerns and offer our sincere apologies on behalf of Nordstrom,” said Geevy Thomas, President of Nordstrom Rack. “I also want to thank the young men for their poise in dealing with local law enforcement and the police themselves for handling the situation professionally.
“We want to make sure we have a full understanding of the situation. We are conducting a thorough internal investigation of the actions taken by our employees and are moving quickly to understand where we have opportunities to improve and take action. We are committed to ensuring our processes and guidelines are well understood by our employees, and identifying opportunities to enhance the training and resources we offer them.”