Smart & Final Receives First-Ever Civil Rights Citation from City of Los Angeles

Elgin Nelson

Smart & Final has made history as the first target of a civil rights citation issued by Los Angeles’ Civil and Human Rights commission. This action stems from a discrimination claim made by an African-American shopper against Smart and Final, LLC, and its vendor, Non-Stop Security Services.

The shopper, identified by officials as a man named Corey Brown, entered a Smart and Final store located on South Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles on Sept. 22, 2022, but security guards instructed him to remove and leave his backpack at the entrance.

Brown felt compelled to go back home to drop off his belongings, but returned to the Smart & Final with customers entering the store with their own backpacks.

“This disparity prompted Mr. Brown to file a complaint with the L.A. Civil Rights Department, initiating a thorough investigation—revealing the implementation of a ‘bag policy’ at the specific Smart and Final location, which was discriminatorily enforced based on customers’ appearances,” said Soto-Martinez’s office in a statement.

Capri Maddox deemed the way Brown was treated as illegal; “The treatment that Mr. Brown received is in direct violation of our civil rights laws,” Maddox said. “Any injustices or inequities in the city of Los Angeles will not be tolerated.”

In 2019, the city added the “Los Angeles Civil and Human Rights Ordinance” to its Municipal Code, thus creating the Civil and Human Rights Commission. The commission is tasked to handle cases, such as this, to “investigate complaints of discrimination and enforce against violators by holding businesses and individuals accountable for discriminatory behavior.”

“The Civil Rights Enforcement Unit has only existed for a few years, and they are already making Los Angeles a more just and equitable city,” Soto- Martinez said. “This enforcement should send a clear message to unscrupulous actors in Los Angeles — we are ready to come after you and make sure that this city’s commerce, education, employment and housing are free of discrimination.”

The grocery store faces a $10,000 fine, while the security company, fined $5,000, settled for a reduced amount and agreed to train guards to prevent future incidents, officials stated.

Smart and Final responded, stating, “We’ve been informed by the city about these claims involving a former third-party security guard, not our employee. We’re taking these allegations seriously and are investigating.”

Share the Post:

Related Posts