Walmart ordered to pay man $4M after discrimination lawsuit

Published: Aug. 23, 2022 at 4:30 AM CDT
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV/Gray News) - An Oregon jury decided that a man who claimed racial profiling should be awarded millions after filing a civil lawsuit against Walmart.

Michael Mangum claimed an asset protection employee racially profiled him in March 2020 at a Walmart in Wood Village, Oregon, and called deputies on him for no reason other than wanting him to leave the store.

After the verdict, Walmart has been ordered to pay $4 million in damages to Mangum, KPTV reports.

Mangum said he was visiting the store to buy a light bulb, and an employee at the store suddenly confronted him, told him to leave and then called Multnomah County Sheriff’s deputies.

According to court documents, the Walmart employee was identified as Joe Williams. The documents also revealed that deputies knew that Williams had a history of frequent 911 calls, often making embellishing accusations about people in his Walmart location.

Mangum and his lawyer, Greg Kafoury, said that Williams remained on the job after the incident in March 2020 but no longer works for Walmart now.

Mangum said Williams keeping his job was hurtful.

“No suspension, no investigation, that’s kind of a slap in my face, for one,” he said. “Because I’m sure he’s done this to a lot of people.”

Mangum works for Home Forward, an affordable housing and youth outreach nonprofit. He said he hopes his experience can be a teachable moment for the youth he serves.

“I hope they don’t focus on the money,” he said. “That’s not my message. My message is tell the truth, stand up for yourself, know your rights, and I just try to teach them to advocate.”

Even though it may be two years later, Mangum said experiencing racial profiling in such a public place like Walmart has reshaped his perspective when working with at-risk youth.

“It gives me a chance to really, really feel where they’re coming from,” he said.

KPTV reached out to Walmart for comment on the verdict, and a spokesperson sent back a statement, which reads:

“We do not tolerate discrimination. We believe the verdict is excessive and is not supported by the evidence. Mr. Mangum was never stopped by Walmart’s Asset Protection. He interfered with our associates as they were surveilling and then stopped confirmed shoplifters, and then refused to leave despite being asked to repeatedly by our staff and Multnomah County deputies. We are reviewing our options including post-trial motions.”