Should stores bar shoppers based on what they are wearing?
Following last Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks on multiple restaurants, a concert venue and a sports stadium in Paris, it is understandable that security personnel at other so-called soft targets in the country are on high alert. But personnel at a Zara store in Plaisir, west of Paris, were accused of taking their caution too far when they barred a French woman from entering because she wore a Muslim headscarf, or hijab.
After a video of the incident made its way to YouTube, in which a security guard explains that no one wearing a head covering can enter, Zara fired the guard and the store manager. While a 2010 French law prohibits anyone from wearing garments that completely cover their face, such as a burka, it does not extend to headscarves.
"This type of mentality is unheard of at Zara and there have never been instructions given out to act this way," Jean-Jacques Salaun, Zara’s head of French stores, told Agence France-Presse.
Concerns about shopper dress are nothing new for retailers. In a 2012 discussion on RetailWire, many expressed support for an independent pharmacy in New York State after it posted signs advising people wearing sunglasses and hats or hoodies to remove them before entering its locations. The stores, Cornerstone Drug and Gifts and Keesville Pharmacy in Rouses Point, NY, took the step after a person wearing sunglasses and a head covering carried out armed robberies in the area.
The owner of the businesses, Dan Bosley, said he decided to post the signs to protect his employees. "(They) become like family, and a threat against them is a threat to your family," he told the Press-Republican at the time. "It’s really scary. I worry about it every day."
- Muslim woman in Hijab denied entry to Zara store near Paris – Documenting Oppression Against Muslims/YouTube
- Zara fires French employees for barring woman wearing headscarf – Agence France-Presse
- Muslim woman wearing hijab denied entry at Zara store in Paris – International Business Times
- Zara fired employees in France after a woman in a hijab was barred from one of its stores – Quartz
- What’s the difference between a hijab, niqab and burka? – BBC
- Drugstore implements dress code for shoppers – RetailWire
Do you think retailers should be able to create a dress code for customers that determines who may or may not enter a store? Do retailers need to change their security practices in light of the ever increasing danger posed to employee and customer safety by terrorists, the mentally ill carrying firearms, etc.?