A 72-year-old Black man is suing Trader Joe’s, alleging a white store captain in Chatworth blocked him from leaving with a cart of already purchased groceries for about 10 minutes in January without explanation as multiple customers looked on.
Rene McCray’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed Friday and alleges civil rights violations, false imprisonment and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. The Chatsworth resident seeks unspecified damages.
A Trader Joe’s representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
McCray and his wife of nearly 50 years have regularly shopped for wine, cheeses and other goods at the Chatsworth store, according to his court papers. On Jan. 20, the couple had already purchased groceries when they saw some willow stalks in the flower department that they wanted to purchase, and Sandra McCray got in line to buy them, the suit states.
But when McCray tried to lebe with the groceries he and his wife already had bought, store captain Michael Milosevich blocked his path and put his hands on the plaintiff’s shopping cart to hold it in place, according to the suit.
When McCray asked why he was being stopped, the store captain glared at him and said nothing, the suit alleges.
“All the other shoppers in the crowded store were watching the scene as it unfolded over the course of around 10 minutes,” the suit says. “This scene, an elderly African American gentleman being stopped and harassed by an aggressive white store leader in front of a store full of people, caused great embarrassment, emotional distress and anxiety on Mr. McCray.”
Later, when Sandra McCray approached her husband after buying the willow stalks, Milosevich stepped out of the plaintiff’s path without ever explaining his actions or apologizing, the suit alleges.
“As a result of this incident, McCray felt humiliation, embarrassment (and) shame that persists to this day,” the suit states.
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