NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CN) – A pharmacy manager claims Wal-Mart fired her for protesting that the company was selling expired drugs to the poor, minority district her store served.
In her federal complaint, Samantha Williams-Iwu, a Ph.D. in pharmacy, says she was the only black, female pharmacy manager in her district. She accuses Wal-Mart and three of her bosses of racial discrimination, harassment, and violations of employment and civil rights laws.
Williams-Iwo says that she became pharmacy manager of Store 5107 in April 2009. She claims that “store 5107 was one of the failing stores in the district and was in real bad shape and in need of transformation. It was so bad that the managerial position was literally open for one or more years.”
Williams-Iwo, who refers to herself in the complaint as “Dr. Sam,” says she “transformed it into a prosperous store.” Because of “the superb job done,” she says, “her direct supervisor tapped her to manage the other failing store,” Store 3306. She says she began managing that store on Feb. 1.
At Store 3306, she says, she “discovered that Pharmacy Board Procedures were not followed at all in this store, and that Wal-Mart was selling expired drugs to this predominantly minority, poor area. In fact, some of the drugs were two (2) or more years old expired.”
Williams-Iwu says that when she protested, her manager told her, “Wal-Mart is here to make money and does not care so much about the neighborhood and people in it.”
Williams-Iwu claims she told her boss it was “morally wrong and reprehensible” to sell the expired drugs, to which the manager responded, “‘Well, that comment won’t sit well with the corporate management and that you won’t go up in corporate hierarchy if you wanna play Mother Theresa.'”
Williams-Iwu says that exchange was followed immediately by attempts “to undermine, retaliate, and force Dr. Sam to quit.” She claims the retaliation included failing to give her store the equipment, employees and managerial support she needed, and that this was done, in part because of her race.
She seeks punitive damages.
She is represented by Lorraine Wade of Nashville and John Ben Iwu of Antioch, Tenn.