Now that the well of women accusing Judge Roy Moore of Alabama of improper sexual advances has run dry, Gloria Allred needed to find a new cause to publicize. Thanks to one woman’s shock that Walmart would put hair products used by African Americans behind plastic barriers, Gloria is back in the headlines.
According to KCBS, 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. The product in question was a 49-cent comb she originally purchased with no problem at the Riverside Walmart, according to the lawsuit.
Grundy said that when she went to her local Walmart in Perris, she found the comb and other products used by African-Americans behind glass.
“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.”
Actually, this sort of protectionism is practiced by a number of different retailers in areas where African-Americans shop. In most places, it’s known as stopping shoplifting as the items kept under lock and key – like new cell phones at Walmarts everywhere – are those that are prime targets for thievery.
But, apparently, that isn’t really an argument, according to Allred and her client. They are more attuned to the hurt caused when a customer couldn’t easily get to the items she desired. The store’s bottom line, which ultimately will determine whether or not the place stays open, doesn’t figure into it.
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.”