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Grocery chain is fined for racial discrimination


Security service also cited

The city of Los Angeles this week fined a grocery chain and its security vendor following a discrimination claim made by a Black shopper.

During a news conference at City Hall, Councilman Hugo Soto-Martinez, who chairs the civil rights committee, said Smart & Final faces a $10,000 penalty and Non-Stop Security Services received a $5,000 fine. This is the first enforcement of this kind made by the Civil Rights Department.

According to the department, staff issued a notice of violation after an investigation was conducted regarding the complaint, which revealed the two entities violated the Civil and Human Rights Law.

On Sept. 22, 2022, Corey Brown, a Black man, said he entered the Smart & Final grocery store on South Figueroa Street in Downtown LA. . He said security personnel told him he had to remove his backpack and leave it at the front.

Brown decided to drop off his backpack at home, and returned to the store. He realized that customers of different races were permitted to shop with their backpacks, according to the department.

He later filed a complaint with the L.A. Civil Rights Department. The investigation included interviews and it determined that “bag policy” at this Smart & Final location was discriminatory enforced based on customers’ appearances.

“The Civil Rights Enforcement Unit has only existed for a few years, and they are already making Los Angeles a more just and equitable city,” Soto-Martinez said. “This enforcement should send a clear message to unscrupulous actors in Los Angeles — we are ready to come after you and make sure that this city’s commerce, education, employment and housing are free of discrimination.”

This enforcement action underscores the city’s commitment to ensuring the civil rights of Angelenos, the department said.

“We want the public to know that discrimination will not be tolerated in Los Angeles and the L.A. Civil Rights Department can and will enforce violations of Civil and Human Rights Law against private entities where criteria are met,” L.A. Civil Rights Executive Director Capri Maddox said.

Residents who encounter civil rights violations in the private sector of commerce, education, employment and housing, are encouraged to report to incidents to LA Civil Rights by calling (213) 978-1845 or filing a complaint at, Kim Kasreliovich, assistant general manager of the Civil Rights Enforcement Unit said.