Lawsuit: Is Walgreens Racist?

A new lawsuit against Walgreen Co. alleges “widespread racial bias against thousands of its African American workers.” From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The lawsuit alleges that Walgreen assigns black managers, management trainees and pharmacists to low-performing stores and to stores in black communities, and that it denies them promotions based on race.

“Black managers are assigned to stores in black neighborhoods more often than one would expect, and black employees are not being promoted to management and within management as often as similar white employees,” EEOC regional attorney Robert Johnson said in St. Louis.

Walgreens denies the charges. “Our commitment is to providing opportunity to all employees – not only because it is the right thing to do, but because our business was built on this principle,” they said in a statement.—MEGHANN MARCO

Walgreen is the target of U.S. racial-bias lawsuit [Philadelphia Inquirer]
(Photo: TheConsumerist)

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  1. healthdog says:

    Does this stuff really still happen? I know that racist pricks exist, but how do they mass and form/run a company these days? Anyone see South Park last night? Oooh, shiny object at 2 o’clock…

  2. I know that racist pricks exist, but how do they mass and form/run a company these days?

    I imagine that most people start companies with the people they are friends with and that racist people would be friends with other racists.

  3. r81984 says:

    This is without merit, Walgreens is only worried about taking care of the customer, being profitable, and having enough employees to operate the company. Walgreens is strict with its rules and does not allow racism of any kind. They have an anymous hotline you can call if you think your are being discriminated against.

    I wonder how many of these so called “repressed” individuals contacted Walgreens proper channels before contacting the EEOC?

    EEOC should only be used when the company refuses to correct anything that might be wrong. If there are bad Managers around the country then they need to report it to Walgreens not the EEOC so Walgreens can punish them or fire them.

    How is any company supposed to know about a problem if it never reported to them?

  4. Trick says:

    What is so bad about black managers being assigned to black neighborhoods? If we go by the media, black neighborhoods don’t like whitey or trust whitey.

    So having managers that are black in black neighborhoods is racist?

  5. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @Trick:

    I have to agree. While the company may not be racist, the community in which Walgreens is located could be racist.

    If there is a black manager in a racist white town, or vice versa, that Walgreen’s loose business.

  6. NeoteriX says:

    @healthdog:
    People need to understand that the “racism” of today isn’t the KKK/neo-Nazi stuff of before. Today’s racism is often unconscious and unintentional, making it much harder to address and deal with. Many times there are non-discriminatory policies that end up having a racial or discriminatory effect, so it’s not racist individuals, but an institution that is racist.

    I’m going to withhold judgment on Walgreens and the situation until more facts come in. It’s possible that it happens to be the case that people are hired and positioned in the stores they live nearest to, and so a black employee who might live in a predominantly black neighborhood might result in what happened here–the facts aren’t clear yet.

    Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the suit went forward after settlement negotiations fell through. It might mean that Walgreens thinks it has the better legal argument despite having racist policies, or it might mean Walgreens actually doesn’t think racism is the issue here and is legitimately trying to defend itself.

  7. Greeper says:

    If I sue Consumerist for being racist, will it run the Headline: Is Consumerist Racist? I’m sure the plaintiffs’ attorney was delighted that you ran his press release.

  8. ReverendDrGladhands says:

    Walgreens also has a history of placing extra security tags on black hair care products, while using no tags on similarly priced, white hair care products.

  9. kerry says:

    @ReverendDrGladhands: As someone who’s bought a lot of “white” hair care products I can say that Walgreens sticks those tags to everything, sometimes twice, at all the Walgreens stores I shop at, but maybe that’s because they’re all in “black” neighborhoods.

  10. r81984 says:

    @ReverendDrGladhands:

    Walgreens does have a history of placing security tags on anything that has alot of theft.

    I know of a Walgreens that has alot of nonwhite customers where they had to put security tags on every bar of deoderant because that was the most stolen item in the store. It had nothing to do with the color of the skin of the customers, it had to do with what kept disappearing from the inventory. Walgreens is very reactive when it comes to theft. They do everything they can to stop it.

    ReverendDrGladHands, at your local Walgreens if there are tags on black hair care products it was only because those items were being stolen alot and the manager had to do something about it.
    If the managers fail to stop the theft I’m sure it will hurt them for promotions or bonuses.

  11. guroth says:

    If they are not promoting some people because they are black then that is racism.
    If more white people are being promoted because they happen to deserve the promotion more then that is not racism.
    If a law comes into effect that requires Walgreen’s to promote equal amounts of white and black people, regardless of their deserving a promotion or not, then that is racism.

    Further more it is possible to prefer one race over the other without being racist. A white person can prefer a white mate, a white person can prefer a black mate, it doesn’t make them racist one way or the other, and the same goes for entering a business.

    Did it ever occur to some of you that they have a black person managing a store in a black neighborhood because that draws more business? In a “black neighborhood” if they had 2 Walgreen’s side by side, one with mostly white employees and white management and one with mostly black employees and black management then the one with white management would make less money.

    Racism is not just something white people invented. All races are capable of displaying preference and racism.

  12. ReverendDrGladhands says:

    @kerry:

    Allow me to retract my previous post. Apparently, it was CVS that came under fire for distributing its anthi-theft devices along racial lins. Mea culpa.

    Are we really putting “black” in quotes now?

  13. NeoteriX says:

    @guroth:
    Unfortunately I don’t have the time at the moment to get into it, but your understanding of the term “racism” is somewhat outmoded. Racism isn’t just people in KKK hats lynching, and it isn’t just about choosing one race over another in employment. For one thing, “discrimination” in employment with whites and “discrimination” in employment for minorities cannot be compared on the same level because there is a huge power discrepancy between whites and minorities (generally speaking). The comparison just doesn’t work.

    ps. and yes, preference on your partner’s RACE is infact racism. Racism has the word “race” in it, and race preference in partners uses the same socially developed norms about race, hence racism.

    The point is, you shouldn’t feel you’re on the level of Hitler or the KKK for preferring a race, but it is in fact racism.

    Think about it.

  14. Kornkob says:

    Part of the problem with discussions about race bias and power inequities is that the language has not evolved with our culture. We’re still using language that has a heavy emotional charge to describe behaviors that are much more benign.

    We need language in common use that describes the behaviors better. Pardon the pun but… we need to develop language that allows us to discriminate behaviors with greater grainularity.

  15. mopar_man says:

    This made CNN news so I’m sure the story is going to be altered in some horrific way by them.

  16. kerry says:

    @ReverendDrGladhands: I did simply because, while many would consider the places that I’ve lived “black neighborhoods,” the reality is that they’re much more ethnically diverse than that and I take offense to the idea that there’s only one type of person/family settling down there. For the record, both those Walgreens stores are mostly staffed and managed by African Americans.

  17. KesCaesar says:

    I live in a predominantly black neighborhood which has the dual identity as a university neighborhood. I don’t know if this in Walgreen’s favor, but we have a white manager with all-black employees.

  18. Rachel says:

    It’s really sad that I know exactly where that Walgreens is in the photo.

  19. BillyMumphry says:

    anything black people perceive as racist is automatically so. Now back to my affirmative action bake sale…

  20. Americana says:

    “affirmative action”

    I’ve always thought it funny that if it’s racism that positively works out then it’s ok.

  21. NeoteriX says:

    It’s actually not funny. Tell me privileged White friends, how do you fix decades of racism with a “race neutral” policy? You think that we can undo the horrible history of race that easily huh? Instead of being ignorant and getting pissy that someone you know couldn’t get into their #1 party school because some minority “beat” them, why don’t you make an effort to understand why some people feel affirmative action is necessary.

  22. WallyWorld says:

    I can’t comment on the discrimination suit, as I don’t know all the details. In terms of security tagging, you tag, protect, and lock up your most frequently stolen items. You’d be surprised by the systems in place to track and notify you of your high shrink categories.

    People steal stuff everyday from walgreens. Your shrink rate is considered low if it’s 2% per day. Multiply the average amount of theft(we’ll say just $50 a day, even though I know that’s too low) by about 5500 stores for 365 days a year.

    Then consider your retirement plan is a profit sharing plan. You make zero profit on stolen items. That right there is your motivation to tag or lockup your high theft items, follow shady people around the store, etc. It doesn’t just hurt the store’s numbers, it directly hurts you.

    I seem to have gone off topic a bit here. In terms of discrimination in the area I’m in, I can honestly say I don’t see it. I can’t speak for all the other areas of the country. Store management is split about 50/50 male to female. There are a few minority managers, but this is a predominately white area. I also don’t see the placement issues around here that this suit alleges.

  23. poornotignorant says:

    In order to be racist or make a remark that should be considered racist you must believe one race is SUPERIOR to another. It’s not just discrimination. I’ve lived in Philadelphia for the last 7 years and have become PREDJUDICED against many african americans because they are so nasty and angry towards me even though I and my family are poor and have never had the power to do anything to hurt them (nor would we, the way I was raised). If these people put maximum effort, even sacrificing a generation, to force the power in this country to provide equal opportunity to education, I would be right next to them in that sacrifice. With our current laws and racial focus I’m sure if everyone, in Beverly Hills or West Philly, were given the same education from preschool through high school, opportunities would equalize. Too many african americans are lost early and do not grow up to be productive members of society. We can change that, with the blacks leading the way. And yes the blacks have to lead the way, unless you like the way things are going. I guarantee the powers are not giving any reparations to people who have never met a living slave.

  24. ibelli says:

    Way to go NeoteriX!!!

    Check and Mate.

  25. aznal00 says:

    In case no one knows, the point of the racism isn’t just about the placing of black managers in black communities. That’s understandable because that may increase the comfort level of the consumers in that certain demographic. However, Walgreens store managers makes their annual income based on two things. The first is their annual salary, obviously determined by the number of years they’ve been with the company. But the second, which is your annual bonus, is from the difference between the profit they made this year and the profit they made last year.
    Managers are upset about this because being placed in the low-income areas means that your profit is low. That also means that your bonus will be low. The difference in bonuses from store to store is substantial. A low income store may only bonus about 10 to 15,000 dollars while a high income store may bonus anywhere from 25,000 to even 85,000. If I was a black store manager that’s been around for 10 years, placed in a low-income area making a bonus of 10,000 a year, I’d probably be upset that some white store manager that’s been around for 6 years is making a bonus of about 80,000 a year…..wouldn’t you? Especially if you’ve put in for transfers and been denied multiple times.

  26. Truth_is_king says:

    This is to anyone that thinks Walgreens is not racist: I worked for Walgreens and I know first hand that they ARE RACIST!! I heard and was targeted with the racist comments and conspiracy that occurred in my store and talked with many others all other the world with similar statements. People just don’t yell “racism” for nothing and people just don’t pick a company (Walgreens) out of the blue to target and falsely accuse them of racism from states across America. Let’s get real. If you are not black, you won’t know. But I bet you that if you are white and witness racism towards a black person from your white friend or co-worker, you will not say a … word! Its a code of silence and you can deny it all you want. It’s the truth. Look at Imus. Let’s face it. People just can’t insult others with racial derrogatory statements and get away with it. Its wrong and more and more Americans are no longer standing for the crap! So, get real and know for a fact, when they get through with Walgreens, they would have wished they never rooted their company on racism.

  27. Truth_is_king says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:Do you live in America or are you virtually blinded by your own background and prejudges?