A jury in Multnomah County has ordered retail giant Walmart to pay $4.4 million in damages to a customer who sued Walmart. The lawsuit alleged that the customer was racially profiled and harassed by a Walmart employee in 2020 at one of their branches in Portland, Oregon.
The lawsuit staged that the employee “spied” on Dovey Mangum as he was doing his shopping. KVG also reported that the employee demanded that Mangum leave the store and then called the police when he refused to comply.
Mangum said in the lawsuit that he arrived at Walmart to buy a lightbulb. After a short period of time in the store, he observed employee Joe Williams watching him.
Williams then asked Mangum to leave the store, however Mangum refused, stating that he hadn’t done anything wrong. Mangum’s lawyers alleged that Williams told Mangum he was going to call the police and tell them that Mangum had threatened to “smash him in the face.”
Williams phoned the non-emergency police dispatch line and informed the operator of his location and that he “had a person refusing to leave,” the lawsuit reads.
According to Mangum’s lawyers, deputies from the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call and “refused to take action against Mangum.” Mangum’s lawyers said the reasoning for not pursuing further action was based on Williams’ “shifting explanations” for his issue with Mangum and also his “reputation for making false reports to police.”
Mangum’s lawyers stated that the following day, Sheriff’s Sergeant Bryan White and along with another deputy met with the director of the Walmart and the assistant manager and informed them that both deputies picked up on a “pattern of behavior” in which Williams would call police to report “dangerous active situations, such as customers physically assaulting him or other employees,” none of which took place.
Williams remained in a job for a few more months before being dismissed for “mishandling $35 of Walmart property.”
Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove questioned several claims made against Walmart and believes the verdict was “excessive.”
“We do not tolerate discrimination. We believe the verdict is excessive and is not supported by the evidence,” Hargrove said in a statement. “We are reviewing our options including post-trial motions.”
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