SANTA FE, N.M. (KOB) – A Santa Fe, New Mexico woman says she was humiliated when a Walmart employee forced her to lift her shirt and expose her body in front of customers after accusing her of shoplifting.
Patricia Pautke went into the store to browse the Halloween selection last week, but as she was leaving, she was stopped by a store employee.
“He said ‘ma’am are you pregnant,’ and I said ‘yes I am,’ and he said ‘you did not look pregnant five minutes ago,'” said Pautke. “He said, ‘I’m going to need you to lift up your shirt right now and prove to me that you don’t have anything under your shirt.'”
Pautke said at the front of the store, in front of other employees and customers, she lifted up her shirt. Then when she proved she wasn’t hiding anything, she said that employee told her to have a good day.
“I couldn’t believe this happened to me,” she said. “I’ve never heard of this happening before and how humiliated and embarrassed I was that they didn’t even take me into a room.”
A few days later she filed a police report with the Santa Fe Police Department. Pautke also spoke with a manager of that Walmart who apologized, after she said he watched the surveillance video.
“You can’t just apologize and make this experience go away,” she said. “You know, I’ve thought about it daily since it happened and it’s just really traumatized me.”
KOB reached out to Walmart. Leslee Wright, Senior Manager of Corporate Communications for Walmart, released a statement that said, “We’re sorry for the experience Ms. Pautke had in our store. We take this seriously and are looking into it. We will take action as appropriate.”
Pautke said she will not be returning to that Walmart because she just doesn’t want to run into that employee again.