Posted on April 28, 2023

Several People in Oregon Succeed in Suing Retailers for Racial Discrimination

Katia Riddle, NPR, April 27, 2023

Historically, it’s been hard to prosecute cases of racial discrimination against customers. But some in Oregon have had recent success suing retailers for discriminating against them.


Many people of color are familiar with the experience of shopping while Black, walking into a store and being followed by a security guard, maybe being asked to leave or asked for a receipt on the way out. Legal recourse can be difficult, but as Katia Riddle reports, several people in Oregon have had success suing retailers for racial discrimination.

KATIA RIDDLE, BYLINE: March 26, 2020, was a day that would change Michael Mangum’s life forever. It started, like many other days, with the to-do list. His wife had been bugging him to replace a lightbulb.


RIDDLE: {snip} He went to Walmart. In the aisle, he described seeing out of the corner of his eye a guy standing close by.

MANGUM: And the first thing out of his mouth was, what are you looking at me for? So I looked back to my right to see if it was somebody else he could have been talking to.

RIDDLE: The guy was a security guard.

MANGUM: I said, man, you just need to leave me alone. I’m just looking for a lightbulb.

RIDDLE: Instead, he says, the security guard told him to leave. Mangum refused. The security guard called the police. {snip}


RIDDLE: He took Walmart to court for racial discrimination and won. Still, Walmart continues to dispute Mangum’s version of the event. {snip} Here’s Mangum’s attorney, Jason Kafoury.

JASON KAFOURY: Suddenly, jurors have been saying, we want to send a message to these big corporations that discriminating against Black people is not OK.

RIDDLE: The jury awarded the maximum amount in this case, more than $4 million.

KAFOURY: And we’re going to do it in the only language they understand, which is money.

RIDDLE: This is one of two unprecedented wins that Kafoury’s had recently in shopping-while-Black cases. He believes there are a number of reasons for this success. One factor is cellphone cameras. It’s easier than ever to document mistreatment. And Kafoury has another theory.

KAFOURY: A ton of white guilt about what white people have done to Black people in our country came out through the Black Lives Matter movement.

CHRIS DOMINIC: From what we’ve seen, I would say that is true.

RIDDLE: Chris Dominic is a jury consultant in Portland. He studies the behavior of juries and says before George Floyd, there was often at least one holdout on a jury in these kinds of cases, often a white person – not anymore.


RIDDLE: Dominic says this is especially true in Democratic strongholds, like Portland. {snip}