Walmart Accused of Racial Discrimination for Locking Up African-American Beauty Products

February 6, 2019, 8:07 PM UTC

Walmart stores around the country are being accused of racial discrimination for keeping African-American beauty and hair care products in a locked case, but one Long Island store removed the glass after a customer filed complaints.

In a Facebook post on January 26, Patricia Fulford asked, “Why is it that the black hair products are the only ones under lock and key” at her Riverhead, N.Y., Walmart. Most of the items in the case cost less than $5, according to Fulford’s photo.

Walmart said in a statement that the decision to lock up the items was data driven.

“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,” read the statement, according to RiverheadLOCAL. “Those determinations are made on a store-by-store basis using data supporting the need for the heightened measures.”

Fulford took her complaint to Walmart, town officials, and the local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The glass cases around the products were removed roughly a week later.

This isn’t Walmart’s first run-in with racial discrimination. Other stores around the country have faced similar complaints, with one California woman suing the retail giant over her experience last year. The woman, Essie Grundy, said she had to wait for an employee to unlock the hair product case, and then was told he would have to bring the item to the register for her.

“I felt that I was being treated as a person who might be a thief,” Grundy said in a statement, according to the New York Times.