Gloria Allred has a new client: a mom of five who's suing Walmart for racial discrimination over beauty products she says were kept under lock and key. Essie Grundy, who appeared with Allred at a news conference Friday, says she was shopping at a Walmart in Perris, Calif., on Jan. 12 when she noticed African-American hair and skin products—including a 50-cent comb—were "segregated" and locked up in a glass case, while more expensive beauty products not geared toward black consumers were out on store shelves, NBC Los Angeles reports. Grundy adds that when she pointed out a lotion she wanted to buy, she wasn't allowed to even hold the container until a store employee brought it up to the counter and she paid for it, making her feel like a "criminal."
"[There's] no way that we should be treated this way because of a complexion," she said, per the Daily Dot. "We are all human, and we deserve to be treated as everyone else." Grundy, who went back to the store once more to see if the products were still locked up (she says they were, with a security camera hovering overhead), notes the employee who retrieved the lotion for her said he agreed with her and had brought up his concerns before; Grundy says he was told it was a directive from corporate itself. Walmart provided a statement to FOX 11 Los Angeles, noting that "no retailer is immune to the challenge of crime, and Walmart is not exempt." The statement added that the products that are determined to need a closer watch are "made on a store-by-store basis, and often at the discretion of the store manager." (Read more Walmart stories.)