A California woman is suing Walmart for segregating some of their products.
Forty-three-year-old Essie Grundy noticed her local Walmart in Perris, CA kept hair and skin items which catered to Black consumers, locked behind glass partitions. But products more likely to be bought by other races were accessible without assistance of employees.
When Grundy inquired as to why the items were locked, she was told it was a corporate policy by a store worker. She said was even escorted to the register by an employee after they unlocked a 48 cent comb for her. She wasn’t able to touch the product until it was purchased.
“I just feel that we need to be treated equal,” Grundy said, according to KTLA. “It’s no way that we should be treated … just because of a complexion. We are all human and we deserve to be treated as everyone else.”
Grundy, a mother of five, is suing the company for racial discrimination. Attorney Gloria Allred, who’s handled a number of high-profile cases, will be representing Grundy.
“It perpetuates a racial stereotype that African-Americans are thieves,” Allred said according to the New York Post.
The nation’s largest private employer defended their decision to keep the products locked.
“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,” the corporation said in a statement. “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.”
“A high-value item in Washington or California or Colorado is not necessarily going to be a high-value item in Virginia or Tennessee,” the statement continued. “That’s why you have fishing equipment locked up in Florida.”
Walmart last came under fire for punishing workers who took sick days by refusing to accept hospital notes.