Worker Sues Oregon Store for $2M After Being Fired Following Racism Complaint

June 18, 2020

A former Fred Meyer employee who says he was fired from a Portland, Ore., store after he complained about a pattern of racism has filed a $2 million lawsuit against the grocery store chain.

Michael Mangum, who is 26 and African American, says in his lawsuit filed Monday that he and other employees complained to higher ups, but Fred Meyer retaliated by ending his employment, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported. Mangum worked in the produce department of the Interstate store from 2014 to 2019, according to his suit.

Among other racist comments, Mangum’s suit says his manager had commented to him that the African American shoppers were buying up the watermelons and collard greens and when he saw black women shopping he would tell Mangum that his mother was in the store, according to the lawsuit. The manager said it was a joke, according to an investigation by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries.

The state agency sided with Mangum finding “substantial evidence” that Mangum was “subjected to increased scrutiny” after he complained and that Mangum “was terminated as a result.”

A spokesman for Fred Meyer and Kroger, the store’s parent company, didn’t return requests for comment.

But in a response to BOLI, Fred Meyer said it gave the manager a verbal warning about one comment. The BOLI investigator found that Fred Meyer’s response to the manager – or at least the file documenting the company’s response – was lacking.

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