Walmart Ordered To Pay Oregon Customer $4.4M For Racial Profiling
A grand jury in Multnomah County, Oregon, ruled against Walmart in a lawsuit filed by a man who sued the store over racial profiling and harassment claims stemming from an incident involving an employee in 2020.
Lawsuit ‘Spied On’ By Walmart Employee
In a verdict signed last Friday, Walmart was ordered to pay $4.4 million in damages to Michael Mangum, whom the lawsuit alleges was ‘spied on’ by Walmart employee Joe Williams while he shopped for a light bulb at a store in Wood Village, Oregon, on March 26, 2020.
When Mr. Mangum protested that he had done nothing wrong, defendant Williams ordered him to leave the store, then called non-emergency police dispatch and summoned police, reporting that he had a person refusing to leave, according to the lawsuit as uploaded and shared by KGW News.
Williams told the dispatch operator that Mangum, who was 59 at the time, had not acted violently and did not appear impaired, explaining that the customer just keeps checking me out and started flipping out on me when the two passed each other in the store, according to the lawsuit.
Response From Multnomah Country Sheriff’s Office
Mangum's lawyers said deputies with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office responded and refused to take action against Mangum, based on Williams' shifting explanations for calling police and because the employee had apparently developed a reputation among local law enforcement for unnecessarily calling the police, according to the Associated Press and the lawsuit.
Defendant Walmart, by and through its management officials was aware that Williams had, on previous occasions, provided false information about customers to police officers, and knew that police had complained that he was not to be trusted, the lawsuit said.
Sheriff’s Sergeant Bryan White And Deputy Met At Wood Village Location
The day after the initial incident, Sheriff's Sergeant Bryan White and another deputy met with store management for the Wood Village location, and told them that Williams had developed a pattern of behavior in which he would report ‘dangerous active situations’ at the store that were not actually happening, according to the AP. Mangum's lawyers also alleged that Williams falsely told police that their client threatened to ‘smash him in the face.’
Mangum's lawsuit alleged that the superstore was negligent in retaining Williams in a loss prevention capacity and in failing to supervise Williams so as to prevent foreseeable violations of customers' rights by Williams.
Mangum Lawsuit Against Walmart In 2021
Williams was ultimately fired by Walmart in July 2020 for ‘mishandling $35 of Walmart property, according to the AP.
Mangum filed the lawsuit against Walmart in December 2021 for negligent retention and action against person who summons police with improper intent, according to the lawsuit and the AP.
He lives the same message of self-respect that he teaches to young people, ‘stand up for yourself when you know you’re right, Mangum’s trial lawyer, Greg Kafoury, said in a statement. Because of his courage, we were able to show the jury an unconscionable failure of responsibility by the world’s largest corporation.
Randy Hargrove Walmart Spokesperson Statement To Outlet
Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove called into question some of the claims and said Walmart considers the verdict excessive. We do not tolerate discrimination. We believe the verdict is excessive and is not supported by the evidence, Hargrove said in a statement to the news outlet.
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He said Mangum interfered with Walmart associates as they were surveilling and stopping confirmed shoplifters, and then refused to leave despite being asked to repeatedly.