Schnucks, a Midwestern supermarket chain, was forced to fire one of its employees this week after a black couple tried to get a money order—twice—and were denied each time.
On Monday, Kellen Hill went into a Shnucks in South St. Louis to get a $1,100 money order to pay rent. He was denied by Schnucks employees who, citing fraud concerns, told Hill that he needed to pay for the order in cash.
So Hill followed the employees’ directions. He left the supermarket, took out cash and returned with his girlfriend, who went into the store to request the money order.
She, too, was denied. That’s when Hill’s phone came out.
In a series of videos posted on Facebook, Hill captures an exchange with a white male Schnucks employee who continually denies Hill and his girlfriend service.
“It’s really sad that you can’t be black and buy a money order without being accused of fraud,” Hill wrote in his post.
At one point, Hill’s girlfriend is reduced to tears as she tries to explain to concerned bystanders at Schnucks what happened. In the videos, the other customers, who appear to be white women, confront the employee and ask him why he’s denied service to the couple. They also ask if they can obtain the money order on the black couple’s behalf, but are similarly refused.
All the while, the employee cites Schnuck’s anti-fraud policy.
Over the course of the taping, Hill—who recently moved to St. Louis from Miami—tells the Schnucks employee that he’s obtained money orders from the store since November with no incident. According to Fox News St. Louis, Hill says the employee called the police on him and his girlfriend, and attempted to have them both arrested for disorderly conduct.
The situation was eventually resolved, with the couple getting their money order and the Schnucks employee apologizing for the inconvenience.
Bu the damage had already been done. The videos Hill posted have been shared over 30,000 times as of Wednesday morning. After reviewing the incident, Schnucks said that it fired the employee who denied Hill and his girlfriend service, saying that he didn’t follow company policy.
By way of explanation, a Schnucks spokesperson told Fox News St. Louis that there had been several recent cases of money order fraud at Schnucks stores. In those instances, people had used debit cards and out-of-state licenses—many of them from Florida—to run the scam.
Still, the spokesperson said, the money order should have been approved once the couple brought in cash.
From the company’s statement:
Creating an environment where customers receive exceptional service is one of Schnucks’ core values. The exact opposite was on display yesterday, when a customer attempted to use cash to purchase a money order at one of our stores and was refused. This should not have happened. We have spoken to the customer by phone to apologize. The teammate involved was terminated. I would also like to publicly apologize as well.
All eyes are on corporate America and its treatment of black customers lately after a string of high-profile incidents of racial bias. Waffle House, Starbucks, Nordstrom Rack and Airbnb have all made headlines in recent weeks over their behavior toward black patrons; in each of these cases, the police were involved.
According to Fox News St. Louis, Hill, meanwhile, is lawyering up.