A man who worked his way up the employment chain at a Walmart store in Massachusetts says he was fired from his job after he complained about discrimination in the workplace.
Marc Brown, who worked for Walmart from February 2016 through March 2019, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts on March 16, just about two years after he was let go.
Among the allegations in the lawsuit, Brown says his boss Edward Hartline treated him and other workers of color differently than white workers,” reprimanded him for minor errors and assigned him and other black workers the harder, manual tasks over the white workers. The boss allegedly called such manual tasks as “[N-word] work.”
Tension hit a boiling point when Hartline met Brown’s daughter, according to court documents.
“[The boss’s] harassment of Mr. Brown increased after 2018 when [he] met Mr. Brown’s spouse, who is Caucasian,” the complaint states. “After meeting Mr. Brown’s wife, Mr. Hartline began making statements to Mr. Brown’s daughter, who also worked at Walmart, stating that she would long be allowed to live where he is from in Alabama.”
About five months later, Brown requested to be transferred out of the store he worked at. But when that was denied, he filed an internal race discrimination complaint. It was then, when they opened up an investigation, that they ultimately fired Brown.
“Walmart allegedly initiated an investigation by on March 26, 2019 they reviewed Mr. Brown’s criminal record, from over 20 years prior, determined that he was no longer eligible for employment with Walmart,” the suit states. He was fired two days later.
Brown says that a criminal background check had been run before he was first hired, so anything found during the investigation wasn’t new. And while Walmart said he was fired for “gross misconduct,” Brown’s complaint maintains it was for racial discrimination and a wrongful termination.
Walmart issued a statement in response to the suit to Law360, saying they don’t tolerate any sort of discrimination.
“We deny Mr. Brown’s allegations, and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind,” Walmart representative Randy Hargrove said. “Mr. Brown was terminated for legitimate reasons. We will continue to defend the company.”