Law

California woman sues Walmart for racism over this common security measure

A California woman is suing Walmart for racism because the store locked up black hair products. (Image source: KTLA 5 video screenshot)

Walmart is being sued for racial discrimination. The alleged injustice? Hair products for black people are locked up so they won’t be stolen.

Essie Grundy, a California woman, was shopping for a comb in her local Walmart and noticed that black hair products were locked in a cabinet.

“I originally got the product from the Walmart in Riverside…and it was such a good product, I wanted to introduce it to my older children,” Grundy said during a Friday news conference. “They didn’t have anymore at the original Walmart that I got it from, so I went to my neighborhood one, and that’s when I noticed all of the African-American products was locked up under lock and key.

“It’s no way that we should be treated this way because of our complexion,” Grundy said.

Grundy’s attorney, Gloria Allred, said they’re seeking an apology and a halt on the practice of locking up products.

“This is discrimination in our view,” Allred said. “That is second-class citizenship. That is being treated with the utmost disrespect. That’s racial profiling.”

Grundy’s complaint is based on the fact that beauty products for other races were not locked up at the store she visited.

From KTLA 5:

When she returned to the store to purchase a 48 cent comb, she said she was “shocked” to find that, despite its low cost, the comb was also separated and could only be taken out by a Walmart employee. Grundy said the beauty products for other races were available to customers and were not behind glass.

Grundy said she was accompanied to the cash register by an employee and was not allowed to touch the comb until after she bought it. She claimed that customers of other races were not treated that way.

Walmart, which has faced this complaint in the past, denied any racial element to the decision about what products to lock up.

"We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind at Walmart. 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. 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."

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