Has racism become so bad in America that even beauty products are subjected to profiling? Apparently at least one woman thought so. The woman, Essie Grundy, who hails from California, has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit versus retail giant Walmart for keeping African- American products locked up in a glass case.
According to Grundy she went to the Walmart in Perris last January to buy body lotion by Cantu. Cantu is a manufacturer and retailer of beauty products targeted for African- Americans. It was then that Grundy noticed the items had to be retrieved from behind a locked glass case “from the middle of the aisle to the end”.
Grundy continued that this was not the first experience at Walmart. She narrated that on at least three occasions, she had to ask a store employee to release the products from its glass prison.
She claimed that after the second incident, she asked the store supervisor to explain why the beauty products were being locked up. The supervisor responded that the instructions came directly from corporate headquarters.
Grundy said the discussion with the supervisor lasted 2 hours without any resolution which further added to her frustration.
“I was sad, frustrated and humiliated at the same time. Combs, brushes, wave caps – everything was group together and separated.
Charles Crowson, a spokesman for Walmart, explained that some items are placed behind glass cases because they are at higher risk for being shoplifted. The items secured in glass cases will differ from one Walmart store to another.
“You go into any of our stores – a good part of our items are behind additional security. 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.”
Known advocate of women’s rights, Gloria Allred is representing Mrs. Grundy. Allred has filed the lawsuit in the California Superior Court in Riverside County.
Grundy is seeking $4,000 in damages from Walmart in addition to paying her lawyer’s fees. She will also ask Walmart to change their policy.
By filing a case against Walmart, Grundy has trivialised the issue of racial discrimination.
In the first place, it is every company’s right to implement policies that would benefit its business and protect its consumers. There are always bases for formulating policies and these are usually supported by empirical evidence whether through hard facts or actual figures.
Retailers have Closed Circuit TVs (CCTVs) and do regular inventory checks to identify incidents of theft or in-store pilferage. As a business, Walmart will do what it takes to protect its profit margins by tightening up on factors that could increase its Cost of Goods Sold.
It should be fairly easy for Walmart to provide evidence supporting the implementation of the policy in their Perris location.
Grundy’s allegation that her discussions with the store supervisor added to her frustration was simply a case of “shooting the messenger”.
Paid staff personnel are limited by the scope of work and responsibilities given to them by the principal office. They have no power to change company policy and are often constrained by their employment contracts from disclosing privileged information.
If Grundy has had experience working for a private company, then she should understand that employees are required to conduct their jobs under a set of rules and regulations. That is why these specific acts are covered in employment contracts as part of the company’s Code of Conduct.
Walmart’s policy is no different from a convenience store placing empty boxes of wine and other spirits on display while the actual products are hidden inside the stock room.