Note from BW of Brazil: The Wal-Mart supercenter chain has racked up a long history of racism, sexist practices and violations of employee rights as well as relentless union avoidance practices as reported in countless reports from American media outlets. As such, it shouldn’t be surprising that the chain would continue its practices in its locations in other countries. Lawsuits and accusations against Walmart in Brazil have been bubbling under the surface for a number of years and now comes the news of a huge payout due to a collective lawsuit stemming from complaints from different regions throughout the country. The articles below cover the lawsuit as well as re-visit a specific case of racism in Osasco, São Paulo, from 2011.
Walmart must pay R$22.3 million in collective damages
Courtesy of InfoMoney and O Globo
MPT (Ministério Público do Trabalho or Ministry of Labor) has determined that Walmart pay compensation of R$22.3 million (US$10.1 million) for collective moral damage due to the practice of discrimination and harassment against employees, former employees and sales promoters.
The irregularities occurred in the establishments of the company in the Federal District and the states of Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo. The company is also accused of illegal outsourcing and fraud in the point system of its employees.
The judge over the suit, Mário Fernandes Macedo Caron, considered serious faults of the company, such as exposing workers to excessive shifts that put their health at risk and undermines social and family life, in addition to practicing the bullying that affects professional self-esteem. “Limiting the care of physiological needs of the worker exposes them to the risk of their physical integrity. The illegal outsourcing exposes the worker to precariousness of their rights,” he added.
Moreover, the court forbade the supermarket from the requirement of employees singing or dancing motivational anthem in its facilities, requiring permission for trips to the bathroom, and an end to the outsourcing of core business and the direct subordination of the sales promoters to managers of the supermarket.
Walmart is the third largest supermarket chain in Brazil and appears on the ranking of the Associação Brasileira de Supermercados (Abras or Brazilian Association of Supermarkets with sales of $ 26 billion in 2012. In the same year, it closed the period with 82,341 employees.
Note from BW of Brazil: Afro-Brazilians are regularly subjected to discriminatory practices in many areas of Brazilian society and shopping centers are no different. This blog has reported on only a few of the numerous racist practices (as customers or employees) that occur on a daily basis (see here, here and here) and below the blog re-visits another Walmart case from 2011 as well as other incidents.
Police investigate case of black woman humiliated at Walmart
Courtesy of Afropress
March 15, 2011
Osasco/SP – Deputy Léo Francis Salem Ribeiro, of the 9th police precinct in Osasco, will begin to hear, on Wednesday (March 16), at 3pm, the testimonies of victims and witnesses in the police inquiry that will investigate crimes of racial injury (slur), slander and libel against the housewife Clécia Maria da Silva, 56, practiced by Walmart Supermarket security guards, of Avenida dos Autonomistas in Osasco.
Besides da Silva, the baker Vagner Nisti and his wife, Sueli Aparecida Pereira Nisti, who witnessed the event and accompanied her to make a police report will be heard.
This is the third case this year alone involving crimes of discrimination against blacks in supermarket chains and bank revolving doors in São Paulo.
On January 13, a minor, “T”, aged 11, and three more pre-teens (three black) were approached by security guards in Hipermercado Extra (supermarket), on Marginal Tietê, were taken to a small room on the suspicion of theft and forced to pull down their shorts under threat of whippings and being called “negro fedido (stinking black)” and “negro sujo (dirty black).” The boy had paid for the goods and the case is being investigated by the 10th police precinct of Penha.
On February 9, the Cooperifa poet, singer, songwriter and rapper, Luciano Dimes da Silva, aka Banthu James, 28, was unable to cash his paycheck from Ação Educativa, where he serves as art educator amounting to R$504.00, by security of Banco do Brasil on Rua Regro Freitas (street), downtown, with the support of two Police officers who searched him under the threat of arrest. The case is being investigated by the Delegacia de Crimes Raciais e Delitos de Intolerância (Police Department of Racial Crimes and Crimes of Intolerance).
Discriminatory violence against the Osasco housewife at Walmart took place on February 16 when she walk past the cash register and paying for the goods, was approached by a security guard of supermarket, after walking a few feet. “Let me see those bags,” the man gruffly commanded.
Given the reaction of the frightened woman, the security guard added: “This really happens to blacks,” abruptly taking the little bags that the woman was carrying, under the eyes of the store’s customers.
As a result, the housewife became ill and had to be assisted by the store’s own ambulance and taken removed to Hospital Montreal, in Osasco, where he remained hospitalized for at least four hours. The doctor who tended to her, Daniela Camargo, diagnosed her with a hypertensive crisis and told Érica Patrick da Silva, the daughter of a housewife who was called to help her, that the housewife was very close to suffering a stroke.
Dona Clécia remained hospitalized about 4 hours, from 6:52 to 10:50pm, but later on Saturday, February 19th, had to return to hospital because she was still feeling bad. “He [the security guard] forced me to open the bag, and then he saw that I was not taking anything and that everything had been paid for and the receipt I signed. I don’t know why they did this to me,” she said, stating that, because she lived in Vila Serventina, she usually shopped at the store.
Érica, her daughter-in-law, who will also be heard, said he was very scared when she picked up the phone. “She called me desperately. Come here to Walmart, for God’s sake. When I got to the supermarket the manager had her purse in hand. They were treating Clécia like a thief, because of the clothes she was wearing and the fact of her being black,” she said.
Risk of Stroke
According to Érica, the Hospital Montreal doctor that helped the housewife said her blood pressure was too high and that if she had taken any longer she would have had a stroke. She said it was the Military Police themselves who were called to tend to the incident, that guided her to register the complaint at the police station.
After the depositions scheduled for this Wednesday, the delegado Salém Ribeiro also should hear the store manager, employees who took the woman to the hospital, the doctor who tended to her, and Military Police, who were called by the housewife’s relatives.
Footage from the store’s cameras should also be requested from the supermarket’s administration to report who was working security on the day and time that the incident occurred. “I just want justice,” concluded the housewife.