A black woman is suing Walmart for discrimination because she says one of its California stores locked up African-American hair products.
Essie Grundy held a Jan. 26 news conference alongside celebrity attorney Gloria Allred, according to Los Angeles’ KNBC-TV 4.
Grundy said she went to her local Walmart, in Perris, California, to purchase hair products but discovered the store had stocked items used by African-Americans behind locked glass doors. An overhead security camera was located over the display.
The woman claimed Walmart didn’t allow her to actually touch the product she wanted until after an employee accompanied her to a register and she had purchased it.
“She said she felt like a ‘criminal,’ as people were watching her being escorted to the front cash register, not allowed to hold the product herself,” KNBC-TV 4 reported.
“I just feel we need to be treated equally,” Grundy said during the press conference.
She said she complained to a Walmart employee who said the store had received a directive from the corporate level.
The woman also noted that she was attempting to purchase a $0.48 comb, which was locked behind glass. She claimed non-African-American beauty products, many of which were more expensive than the items behind glass, were not locked up.
“It was something I had to stand up for,” Grundy said. “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.”
Walmart told KNBC-TV 4 it doesn’t tolerate 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,” a spokesman for the chain told the news station.
“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. Those determinations are made on a store-by-store basis using data supporting the need for the heightened measures. While we’ve yet to review a complaint, we take this situation seriously and look forward to addressing it with the court.”
Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh laughed as he mentioned the case during his Monday show.
“Now, what’s going on here is that in this particular Walmart store, African-American beauty products are stolen,” Limbaugh said. “They are shoplifted with a much greater frequency than (ahem) others.
“So Walmart – as standard, good business practice would be – has decided to make it tougher to shoplift these items. So, therefore, Walmart is being sued for discrimination because it’s only African-American hair products that are now harder to steal. I mean, that’s what it boils down to, and I know I’m gonna catch heat for it, but that’s what this is.”