Essie Grundy has sued Walmart for racial discrimination, claiming the retailer treated her like a thief in spite of Essie having no criminal history. As seen in the press conference video above with Gloria Allred, Essie described her experience at a California Walmart when she discovered that only the African-American beauty products were held under lock-and-key, including the $0.48 comb Grundy wanted to purchase. Essie attended the news conference with her husband and daughter on Friday, January 26, according to ABC 7.
As seen in the YouTube video’s description, Grundy said that she felt treated as though she were “socked in the stomach,” ready to cry on her birthday when she discovered the locked up products on January 12. Essie visited a Walmart in Perris, California, seeking out a popular African-American skin cream. Grundy found the cream locked up with other black beauty and hair-care products, while other non-African-American products were not locked away.
Grundy questioned a Walmart worker about the disparity, one that the Walmart worker also had complained to corporate headquarters about, but didn’t get an answer. Essie was dismayed at having to be escorted to the register to buy a $0.48 comb. As a result, Walmart is being accused of violating California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prevents businesses and establishments from discriminating against customers based on their race.
Walmart has been charged with racial discrimination practices, reports KABC-TV. Although high-theft items are allegedly the ones that are locked up at certain Walmart locations, the YouTube description calls foul on that rationale. Walmart is being accused of racially profiling all of their African-American beauty product customers as thieves by locking the products behind a case, whereas other products — even more expensive products not necessarily specifically designed for black consumers — were not locked up and didn’t require a Walmart employee to escort the buyers to the register in order to purchase them.
Walmart, meanwhile, is responding in the wake of the incident, reports WPXI Pittsburgh.
Walmart’s statement read that they were “sensitive to this situation” and noted that other retailers lock up products that are “subject to additional security.”