Attorneys suing Dillard’s, say mother was racially profiled & falsely accused of stealing

Destiny Aeinpour says she was falsely accused of stealing while shopping with her 2-year-old

Nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorneys Ben Crump and Jasmine Rand say they’ve filed a lawsuit against Dillard’s for racially profiling a mother who was shopping with her infant.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Nationally renowned civil rights and personal injury attorneys Ben Crump and Jasmine Rand say they’ve filed a lawsuit against Dillard’s for racially profiling a mother who was shopping with her infant.

The lawsuit is on behalf of Destiny Aeinpour, a Jacksonville mother that attorneys say was falsely accused of stealing from the Dillard’s in St. John’s Town Center.

There isn’t any documentation showing that she and her son were detained, but Aeinpour said she was racially profiled and wasn’t allowed to use her phone to call her husband while in custody.

According to the complaint against Dillard’s Inc., Aienpour was shopping with her 2-year-old on Oct. 1, 2018. She said employees accused her of stealing a dress that she purchased at the store.

“It was one of the most mortifying times of my life,” Aeinpour said. “I have a small business in Jacksonville, and when you’re being yelled at in front of the store, it’s very embarrassing.”

Aeinpour said she showed the employees her receipt. Even with proof of purchase, she said, the employees detained her and her baby for more than a half an hour.

She said they searched her personal belongings, including her stroller and diaper bag, without her permission.

“When you’re a new mother, all you want to do is protect your child, and when you have no idea what’s going on, you’re being yelled at, you’re being accused for something that you didn’t do, no one is listening to you, comments are being made to you about what they think you did. It definitely has carried on with me since that has happened,” Aeinpour said.

In an unrelated incident in March, a video went viral on social media accusing the company of falsely arresting a woman of color at a store in Louisiana for stealing a purse she brought into the store. Other accusations were reported at locations in Phoenix, Arizona in 2001, and Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2020.

The reported incident in Chattanooga happened to a Black woman named Artelia Phelps. Phelps said employees accused her of stealing her own jeans and shoes that she wore into the store.

She said she was handcuffed and publicly searched against her will. She claimed that employees went as far as checking the tag on her jeans.

“I’ve never felt so humiliated and degraded in my life,” Phelps said.

Phelps said she is also suing Dillard’s. She is being represented by both Crump and Rand.

There is no documentation of Phelps’ detainment, but Rand says there is a video, which News4JAX has requested.

A request for comment from Dillard’s was not returned by publication of this article.


About the Author:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.