Perris, CA – A California woman shopping at Walmart said she was shocked to find beauty products used by African-Americans shelved behind locked glass.
Essie Grundy, 43, said it is the first time she’s directly experienced racism, and she decided to file a racial discrimination lawsuit against the retail giant.
“I just feel that we need to be treated equal,” Grundy said during a news conference Friday (Jan. 26), alongside her attorney Gloria Allred. “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.”
The product in question was a 49-cent comb she originally purchased with no problem at the Riverside Walmart, according to the lawsuit
“It was such a good product, I wanted to introduce it to my older children,” Grundy said, according to KCBS. “They didn’t have any more 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 were locked up under lock and key.”
She said she was shocked that the products would be locked away, and she asked a store manager to change the policy, but the manager refused.
Similar complaints have been made by groups such as Making Change at Walmart, which has described the lock-and-key policy as a “discriminatory practice.”
Grundy is being represented by women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who said they’re seeking a court injunction to halt Walmart’s practice of locking up these products.
“That is discrimination in our view,” said Allred. “That is second- class citizenship. That is being treated with the utmost disrespect. That’s racial profiling of a customer who has no criminal history and it’s all based on a stereotype.”
Walmart spokesman Charles Crowson said in a statement that the company does not discriminate, but that it will review Grundy’s complaint. He said some products, such as baby formula and razors, are more frequently targeted by shoplifters, and that certain products are kept locked because of a greater risk of theft.
“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,” Crowson said. “Those determinations are made on a store-by-store basis using data supporting. We take this situation seriously and look forward to addressing it with the court.”