A woman is suing a California Target store over her son’s suicide.
Virginia Gentles says her 22-year-old son, Graham Gentles, jumped to his death from the roof of a hotel three days after Target fired him from his job as a cashier and allegedly humiliated him by parading him through the store in handcuffs.
“I don’t want any other mother to have to go through what I’ve gone through,” Gentles told NBC Los Angeles. “This is my only child.”
Gentles is suing the retailer and two managers at the Pasadena store for false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence and wrongful death.
According to the lawsuit, Graham Gentles arrived early for work on July 15 and he was met at the entrance by police and Target security.
At the direction of two Target managers, the police officers “grabbed” him, emptied his pockets, pulled off his hat and handcuffed him, then led him through the store to a room where he was questioned, the suit alleges.
Gentles was “shocked, confused and mortified at being handcuffed and walked through the Target store in front of coworkers and store customers” and he “had no idea why he was being arrested,” the suit states.
He was later escorted to a police car and taken to the police department. But he was eventually released and never charged with a crime.
“The only thing he said to me at that moment was, ‘Mum this is the worst day of my life,'” Virginia Gentles told NBC Los Angeles.
The suit claims that Target was subjecting Gentles to a disciplinary measure that the company allegedly calls the “walk of shame.”
The measure is meant to “cause shame, embarrassment and emotional distress to any Target employee who is suspected of stealing from Target Corporation,” the suit states.
Gentles was allegedly subjected to the so-called “walk of shame” because of a verbal altercation with another coworker at a bar outside of work hours, according to the suit.
Target denies having any such policy.
“Our thoughts and sympathies go out to the friends and family of this individual,” the company said in a statement. “The allegations in the lawsuit of a Target policy or practice are simply not true. There is no such policy. As this is pending litigation, we don’t have further comment at this time.”
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