'Felt like a second class citizen': Woman accuses Priceline of 'racial profiling'

A woman has accused Priceline of "unjustifiably racially profiling" her and a group of friends by calling in security after they entered the beauty store in Melbourne.

Hiwot Birhane, who is Ethiopian, said she was “humiliated” and felt like a "second class citizen" after entering the store at Highpoint shopping centre to purchase false eyelashes and makeup.

Hiwot Birhane has accused Priceline store of
Hiwot Birhane has accused Priceline store of

The young woman has taken to social media to demand that Priceline review CCTV footage from the day and to further investigate the alleged incident.

Ms Birhane said a call for “extra-security to the front of the store” was made over the speaker on September 17 at about 4:50pm.

She said a friend paid for her false lashes about 10 minutes later to find two security guards at the entrance of the store.

Ms Birhane claimed the guards allowed two white women and an Asian woman exit the store without being searched.

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"Women who were not black were not searched. Women who were black were searched," Ms Birhane said.

"If everyone who exited the store was being searched we would have no issue. But what we witnessed and experienced in your store [Priceline] was racial profiling.

"Calling extra security on a group of black girls for no apparent reason except for the colour of their skin is unjustifiable."

The young woman claimed she "was offensive and deeply hurtful" and said she had never before felt like such a "second class citizen".

Ms Birhane said Marie, the acting manager, told her and her friends that the women who passed through without being searched were “known customers" from centre management.

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Three days later the issue was escalated to regional manager, Rochelle, who according to Ms Birhane, justified Marie's allegations.

“Marie is not a racist person at all (you) don’t know her at all, (you) don’t know what she does. She works with refugees,” Rochelle reportedly told Ms Birhane.

Ms Birhane has since called upon Priceline to review CCTV footage and investigate the allegations claiming there was a “cultural problem within Priceline and system of selective procedural checks”.

Priceline have apologised for the incident and a spokesperson told Yahoo7 it was "a regrettable series of circumstances".

"The experience of these customers is what matters most and a direct apology will be conveyed," the spokesperson said.

"In light of the comments posted on Facebook we need to add that the customer, when contacted by a support office team member, was asking for the store employee to be sacked."

"Our preferred way of dealing with this is to work with our store team to ensure that this wouldn’t occur again, as our view is that education is more valuable than punitive action."

The spokesperson said bag checks are actually a regular part of their business at the Highpoint store.

"Our store team member in question does indeed work with refugees in her own time and was highly distressed that anyone would think that she was racially profiling."

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