One of the largest retail chains in America is facing accusations of discrimination after a black woman claims they're keeping black hair care products on lockdown.
California resident Essie Grundy said that during a recent visit to her local Walmart store, she noticed that as she shopped for black products, they were locked up behind glass. However, other hair care and skin products that weren't targeted toward African Americans were out on the shelves for people to casually pick up. As far as Grundy was concerned, she felt as if the items were being segregated.
"Combs, brushes, wave caps — everything was grouped together and separated,” she said.
Grundy told reporters that when she did ask a Walmart employee to help her retrieve a bottle of lotion by Cantu, the staffer didn't give Grundy her item. The mother of five said that the employee walked with her to the register before she was allowed to even touch the item. Grundy said she felt as if she was being treated as if she was a criminal as other shoppers watched as she accompanied to the register when she didn't do anything wrong.
No one should have to be walked through the store just because they want to pick up a comb for 50 cents.
"It was something I had to stand up for," Grundy said. "I would like the glass to go down, and for things to go back to the way it was, where it's not segregated and everything is where everyone can get what they need."
She complained to the employee escorting her and to her surprise, Grundy said that he agreed with her sentiment. He added, however, that the directives came straight from the top dawgs from corporate and the store has to fall in line.
She returned to more times hoping that things had changed, but things were exactly the same. In fact, on her second and third trips, she noticed that the black hair and skin care area was heavily guarded by security cameras.
Grundy has now sued the company and hired famous attorney Gloria Allred to represent her case.
Meanwhile, Walmart has responded to the claims of discrimination be assuring customers that they are just trying to serve the public the best they can.
"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," said Walmart spokesperson Charles Crowson.
"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."
Grundy is asking Walmart to not only change their policies but also pay her lawyer fees. She's also seeking $4,000 in damages.