CVS Employee In Indiana Refused To Accept A Puerto Rican Man’s ID, Company Apologizes

The Purdue University student was trying to buy cold medicine.

outside signage of a cvs location
Mike Mozart / Flickr (CC BY 2.0 Cropped and Resized)

The Purdue University student was trying to buy cold medicine.

A Puerto Rican man says that the clerk and manager of an Indiana CVS store refused to accept his Puerto Rico ID card when he tried to buy cold medicine, The Hill reports. The company has since issued an apology.

Jose Guzman Payano is from the Caribbean island but is currently in Indiana while he attends Purdue University. Last week, he said that he started experiencing cold symptoms, likely brought on by the change of seasons, so he went to a CVS pharmacy to purchase some over-the-counter cold medicine.

One of the items he tried to purchase, however, was Mucinex. In some states, Indiana included, customers wishing to purchase the product must show identification. Guzman Payano handed the clerk his Puerto Rico ID card.

“She looks at it and then she faces and looks at me again and asks for a U.S.-issued license. A Puerto Rican license is a U.S.-issued license. Puerto Rico is a part of the United States. It’s a United States territory,” he said.

It’s a problem Guzman Payano has had before, even at airports. For this reason, he always carries his U.S. passport with him, which he also showed the store clerk. However, the clerk refused to budge, so Guzman Payano asked to see a manager, who sided with the clerk and refused to accept either form of ID. He left without his cold medicine and filed a complaint.

a bottle of mucinex
  keepingtime_ca / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

After days of not hearing from the company, Guzman Payano went public with his story.

“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that this happened. It is weird because we’re such a broad campus at Purdue. There are people from everywhere. But I can’t use my ID from Puerto Rico? Not even my passport? This shouldn’t happen here. Period,” Guzman Payano said via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Meanwhile, in a Facebook post, Guzman Payano’s mother, Arlene, said that she’s grateful that her son “wasn’t thrown in the back of an ICE van and interrogated, or worse!”

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In a statement, a CVS spokesperson said that the company is investigating the incident and trying to make contact with Guzman Payano to speak to him personally.

“While our employees must adhere to laws and regulation requiring identification for the purchase of certain over-the-counter medication, we do consider Puerto Rican driver’s licenses to be valid identification,” the spokesperson said.

Puerto Rico has been a part of the United States since 1898, and any person born there on or after January 13, 1941, is a U.S. citizen.