Walgreens is at the center of a race and age discrimination lawsuit over severance packages.
In recent months, many retail stores in the Bay Area have been grappling with an increase in theft. As a result, some stores have either been forced to close or are closing down voluntarily in an effort to protect their stock. Walgreens is one of the stores that has been closing stores in the area, a move that has forced many from their jobs. Now the company is being sued by three Black security managers who claim they were fired without being offered severance packages that were offered “to laid-off white security managers.”
One of the former security managers is Marcellus Clark, 63. Clark is a resident of Alameda County and his race and age discrimination lawsuit was filed yesterday in San Mateo County Superior Court. According to him, he was fired after working for Walgreens for 21 years by a “newly arrived supervisor known for terminating older employees once he acquired a new territory.”
While employed at Walgreens, Clark was responsible for overseeing the scheduling of all the other security guards for the company that worked in the Bay area stores. However, in the late summer of 2019, two white security managers around the age of 60 were fired and offered severance packages. During the next year, three Black security managers were also fired, including Clark, and none were offered similar severance packages as their white co-workers.
When commenting on its decision to close so many stores, the retailers said in a 2019 regulatory filing that it “planned to close 200 U.S. stores to cut costs, and by the end of that year had begun a wave of closures, including in the Bay Area.” The closures began attracting attention and controversy in October 2020 when company officials “began linking San Francisco store shutdowns to a surge in shoplifting, rather than cost-cutting.”
According to Clark’s lawsuit, he was “fired after the supervisor questioned him about an internal investigation of an employee that required Clark to watch video footage from three weeks of recording.” As a security guard, it was common for Clark to watch the security footage. In fact, “it is common practice for security managers to watch part but not entire days of footage.” What wasn’t common was for Clark to be forced to watch an “entire day of footage.” In the end, despite Clark having “watched several events from each day of the span of three weeks,” he found “no impropriety by the employee.” This wasn’t good enough for his supervisor, and he was fired when the supervisor claims the “employee had been stealing from the store.”
As part of the suit, Clark is seeking a jury trial and damages in excess of $25,000.