A former Walmart employee in Alabama has filed a lawsuit against the retail behemoth, alleging that she and her husband were wrongly accused of stealing $2.90 in chicken neck bones, an accusation the plaintiff says led to her losing her job and having her husband deported.
According to the suit, the plaintiff and her then-newlywed husband, who hadn’t yet gotten his U.S. citizenship, were using the self-checkout line at a local Walmart (not the one at which she was employed). When it came time to scan the package of chicken necks, they wouldn’t register on the machine. So a store employee helped them out at the machine, told them “it’s okay,” and sent them on their way, only to be stopped by a door guard.
The plaintiff says she showed the guard where the chicken bones had been accounted for at the bottom of the receipt, but:
The security guard started screaming and asked to see the identifications of the plaintiff and her husband. The security guard screamed at the plaintiff and her husband saying they were going to be deported. The security guard, in overly loud voice, stated plaintiff and her husband were illegal and what were they doing in this country. Plaintiff asked for the assistant manager. The security guard answered by saying plaintiff and her husband were going to jail.
The plaintiff says she made multiple offers to re-scan the package just to be done with the ordeal. She also asked for store employees to review the videotape of them checking out.
An assistant manager eventually looked at the footage of the incident and, according to the complaint, “The assistant manager said in presence of plaintiff and her husband: ‘I see where she scanned it, I see where it’s been rung up.’” But instead of letting the customers go, the plaintiff alleges that the assistant manager asked the guard what should be done and the guard allegedly said that he wanted to have the couple arrested.
The guard called the police, who arrested the couple. The plaintiff says the guard also called the Walmart where the plaintiff had been employed at the time to let that store know she was being charged with theft. Even worse, the suit alleges that the store contacted INS about her husband and had him deported.
From the complaint:
As a result of being in jail and being accused of being a thief, [the plaintiff] lost her home, her car, all of her personal belongings and her husband was deported. [She] seeks punitive damages for loss of income, loss of personal property, lost profits, lost time and imprisonment, libel and slander, mental anguish, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false arrest, malicious prosecution, slander, negligence and conversion.
The final insult to all of this, according to the lawsuit, is that after the plaintiff had been cleared of theft charges, Walmart refused to refund the $2.90 she had paid for the neck bones.
Wal-Mart Goes Nuclear Over Chicken Necks; Newlyweds Lose House; Husband Deported [Courthouse News Service]