NOKOMIS, Fla. - Ashish Patel, the owner of the Casey Key Food Store in Nokomis, has a sign outside his business that reads “Only two teenagers allowed in a store at time”.
The sign has caused some controversy and questions. Patel says that when teenagers come into his store in large groups, he has a tough time making sure they don’t steal anything.
"Most of the time they make a nuisance when they come in a group; but if there are two, they are not a nuisance. They open the door to the cooler for five minutes sometimes and they go sit in the ice box."
Civil rights attorney Andrea Flynn Mogensen said that while the sign is discriminatory -- it's not illegal.
"It is discrimination because the definition of discrimination is when you treat persons unequally based on a characteristic that’s not associated with ability," Mogensen said. "So it is discrimination in fact, it’s probably, at this point in time lawful discrimination."
The sign has drawn a lot of attention on social media. On ABC7’s Facebook page, Thomas B. Johnson commented, “When I managed convenience stores, I had the same sign. Before I put up the sign, my candy would get picked clean from the pack of thieves. I only let two in at a time and I had one of my employees escort them. Might be considered profiling by some, but I had a business to run.”
Meanwhile, another viewer, Kenneth George Turner, posted "Bad business tactic. If you're hurting that bad, a good surveillance system will help. Quit being hard on a young population that is discriminated against in this country so much already."
The storeowner says the rule on his sign is only enforced during the summer months, when he says the issue of teenagers stealing items gets worse.