Walmart Accused of Discrimination

December 22nd 2016

Dave Fonseca

An international workers union claims Wal-Mart policy discriminates against black shoppers.


In a 30-second advertisement posted on Monday, the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) claimed that hair products targeted to black women are stored behind “an extra layer of security” at stores in Suffolk, Virginia. Conversely, the ad asserts that “products used primarily by white shoppers remain unlocked.”

“Even one Walmart store doing this is too many! African-American shoppers in Suffolk should not be forced to have a different shopping experience. Respectfully, we are urging the community and Mayor Johnson to help us change Walmart for the better,” said Randy Parraz, director of UFCW’s Making a Change at Wal-Mart campaign, at a press release. 

The ad also includes the phone number of Suffolk Mayor Linda Johnson, and it urges shoppers to call the store to complain about the practice.

The local Virginia Pilot newspaper looked into UCFW’s claims, finding that only one of the three locations the union called out were storing products marketed toward black shoppers behind extra security.

Wal-Mart spokesman Blake Jackson told ATTN: that not all hair care products marketed to black shoppers were placed under seal, just those that had been targeted for theft in high numbers. 

"With regard to the claims in the UCFW ad, we are really disappointed with the allegations, we find them not only false but offensive," Jackson said to ATTN:. "There are items that are targeted by shoppers more than others — including razors, baby formula and beauty products — and, unfortunately, the hair care products in this store are heavily targeted by shoplifters, so we taking extra measures to protect them from theft, but still make them available to customers who want to buy them. To insinuate something larger is going on is shameful."

Facing extra scrutiny while shopping is a common concern among black Americans.

“There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me,” said President Barack Obama following the Trayvon Martin trial in 2013.

Wal-Mart isn't the first store that's faced allegations of discriminatory pratices.

In 2014, Macy’s department stores agreed to a $650,000 fine after a dozen of “complaints of profiling and false detentions” were filed against its flagship store in Manhattan. In addition to the fine, Macy’s agreed to increased monitoring of its shoplifting policy, with special attention being paid to employee education about racial profiling.

At the time of the settlement, New York Attorney General Schneiderman said, “it is absolutely unacceptable -- and it’s illegal -- for anyone in New York to be treated like a criminal simply because of the color of their skin.”

Watch Making a Change at Wal-Mart's Video:



[H/T The Cut]