An enraged entrepreneur took to Facebook to share the blatant mistreatment allegedly experienced by her mother at a Sam’s Club in Fountain Valley, California over the weekend.
According to Michelle Tran, her mother, Kim Le, a 52-year-old Vietnamese American, was the victim of “unwarranted harassment and discrimination,” which she suspects to have occurred due to “racial profiling.”
In a lengthy post after the incident, Michelle, who owns Norigami Tacos, detailed Kim’s experience while lining up outside the store at 17099 Brookhurst St. around 10:10 a.m. on Sunday.
After standing for a while, her mother was about to leave without trying to enter, but ultimately decided to stay in the line that “wrapped around the entire building.”
Then, at some point, “multiple people” went out of the line to grab a shopping cart. Kim did the same thing and took one 5 feet (1.5 meters) away from her, Michelle noted.
The man behind Kim reportedly gave her space to get back in line. However, the woman in front of her complained about it, accusing her of cutting the line.
“The woman in front of my mother turned around and began harassing her, saying ‘You cut in line!’ My mom tried to explain and tell her that she didn’t cut, that she was in line and just went to grab a nearby shopping cart,” Michelle noted. “That in fact, the man behind my mom let her back in front of him. That my mom actually let that woman go in front of her in line when they were originally lining up. The woman would not leave my mother alone and kept harassing her.”
Kim asked the woman to calm down and stay 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from her to continue social distancing, but the latter allegedly went on to harass and accuse her of cutting.
Unfortunately, the ruckus escalated as they got to the front of the line. The woman allegedly reported Kim to a female store clerk, who then grabbed the shopping cart out of her hands.
“My mother thought she [store clerk] was going to pull them both aside and ask for the details of the story,” Michelle wrote. “But the woman simply demanded ‘You have to leave the store!'”
Kim then asked to speak to a manager, but the store clerk “blatantly lied and said ‘The manager isn’t here! They aren’t going to come!'”
However, a manager, whom Michelle described as a “6-foot tall, White middle-aged man” eventually showed up. But to Kim’s horror, he also forced her to leave, pushing away her shopping cart.
“My mom proceeded to try and explain the situation and he cut her off and said ‘No, you need to leave!'” Michelle claimed. “My mom kept asking him to listen to the details and how the woman was in front of her and the man behind my mother let my mom get back into line.”
Kim insisted that she had done nothing wrong and asked the manager to check security cameras, but he rejected her demands. “The manager blatantly lied to my mother and said ‘No, there’s no cameras here! You need to leave!’ He then proceeded to call the police on my mother,” Michelle noted.
Police eventually arrived on the scene. Michelle said that they listened to her mother, but told her that “there’s nothing they can do, given that Sam’s Club is ‘private property.'”
Kim later called Michelle’s sister and they left the store together. While leaving, they asked another worker and learned that the manager’s name is Mike.
Michelle pointed out that in the 39 years Kim has been in the U.S., she had never experienced such kind of harassment and discrimination until Sunday’s incident.
“Sam’s Club may be private property but my mother is a member who pays annual fees every year to gain access. She has been a member of Sam’s Club for five years. She has legally done nothing wrong to warrant being refused service at the store and to have the police called on her, which is a traumatic experience for anyone.”
She added, “I don’t want to say there was racial discrimination but the woman who harassed my mother, the store clerk, and the manager were all non-Asian. I fear there was racial profiling with their verbal attacks towards my Vietnamese mother, who is a U.S. citizen.”
Michelle has contacted Sam’s Club’s corporate office, but she has yet to hear an official response. For now, she asks anyone who managed to film the incident to send her a copy of the video.
“Please let our community know that we CANNOT put up with unfair treatment of law abiding Americans! We need justice and fair treatment during these unstable times! Please share my mother’s story and let your loved ones know that even though they may experience harassment and discrimination during this time, we will demand justice,” she added.
NextShark has been in touch with a representative at the Fountain Valley Sam’s Club, who confirmed that she is aware of the incident. She refused to offer any statement or additional comments about the issue.
On Tuesday, Michelle told NextShark that her family has decided to seek legal advice before releasing an official statement regarding the incident.
“After getting some legal advice, my family has decided to talk to an attorney and take time to put together a statement so it will not be misconstrued.”
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