An African-American woman is suing retail giant Walmart for racial discrimination after she says a local store had hair and skin products marketed to Black Americans locked behind a glass case. Meanwhile, products for other races were easily accessible.
Essie Gundy of Perris, Calif., said she made a trip to her local Walmart to purchase some skin cream when she noticed that many of the beauty products used by Black folks were “segregated” from the other items, news station KTLA 5 reported. Grundy then took her complaint to a store worker who informed her that the directive was from corporate.
Initially, the 43-year-old chose to let the matter go. It wasn’t until she returned to the store to buy a 48 cent comb that she was shocked to find that that too was kept behind the case and could only be accessed by a Walmart employee.
During a news conference from her lawyer’s office Friday, Gundy said she was accompanied by the employee as she walked to the register and was not allowed to touch the comb until after she purchased it.
“I just feel that we need to be treated equal,” she told reporters. ” … It is 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.”
This isn’t the first time the retailer has been accused of discrimination. Just last week, a woman in Lancaster, Calif. was also outraged to find Black hair products locked behind a display case at a Walmart store there. A Virginia-based workers union took action against the retailer in 2016 for the same issue, pushing Walmart to make Black beauty and hair care products accessible at several locations in the state.
“That is discrimination in our view,” Gundy’s lawyer, Gloria Allred said during the news conference. “That’s second-class citizenship. That’s being treated with the utmost disrespect. That’s racial profiling.”
Walmart spokesman Charles Crowson emailed the following statement on the matter:
“We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind at Walmart. 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.”
“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.”