On Friday, a California woman represented by “woman’s rights” attorney Gloria Allred announced that she is filing a lawsuit against retail corporation Walmart for alleged racial discrimination.
Essie Grundy, flanked by her husband, daughter, and Ms. Allred, explained that she was horrified to see African American hair products locked in a glass case at her local Walmart store.
“When I walked down the aisle and saw that Walmart had placed all of the African American hair and skin products under lock and key, I had to pause; I had to step back; I was in shock. I realized that all the similar products for other races was freely available,” said Grundy.
“It was something I had to stand up for,” she continued. “I would like the glass to go down, and for things to go back to the way it was, where it’s not segregated and everything is where everyone can get what they need.”
The mother of five said she was escorted to the register to pay for her products.
“I felt that I was being treated as a person who might be a thief, even though I have no criminal history,” she said.
“I never want my children, or anyone else’s children, to experience what I experienced at Walmart that day.”
Allred accused Walmart of perpetuating racial stereotypes. “We think that it perpetuates a racial stereotype that African American customers should be suspected of being thieves and criminals,” she said.
In a response to the accusations, Walmart said they do not tolerate any discrimination. “We serve more than 140 million customers weekly, crossing all demographics, and are focused on meeting their needs while providing the best shopping experience at each store,” said a company spokesman.
“We’re sensitive to this situation and also understand, like other retailers, that some products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics and other personal care products are subject to additional security,” he continued. “Those determinations are made on a store-by-store basis using data supporting the need for the heightened measures.”
In other words, if a product has “extra security” at particular store, it’s because that product is frequently stolen.
“While we’ve yet to review a complaint, we take this situation seriously and look forward to addressing it with the court,” added the spokesman.