PITTSBURGH (CN) — A federal judge has set the stage for Dollar General to face a trial on claims that one of its Trump-supporting workers went on a racist tirade against a black shopper.
Beverly Harris brought the discount store to court this past April, about a month after she says a confrontation with white employees of a Dollar General in Monroeville, Pa., left her in tears.
Harris, who was pregnant at the time, says it all started when she tried to use her welfare card to purchase food items, but her Electronic Benefits Transfer card failed to scan three times.
According to the complaint, a store manager named Pamela Biegel eventually pointed out that the store's location does not accept food stamps and criticized cashier Woodrow Davis for misinforming Harris about the policy.
Harris says she had cash, but that Biegel simply began clearing her items away from the register. Meanwhile Davis laughed about Harris being an EBT user and made fun of her to a white customer, according to the complaint.
"I can't wait til Trump is president, see if [Harris'] ass gets any food stamps then," Davis yelled, according to the complaint.
Harris says the cashier became irate when she complained about his harassing remarks.
"You know what stupid bitch," Davis allegedly continued, "I fucking work, and I can't even get food stamps."
Harris says Davis then asked her: "What the fuck do you do all day? Nothing, that's how y'all (sic) do is get food stamps."
Pointing out that she qualifies for welfare, even though she works, failed to stop the tirade.
"Now you got me fucking pissed off bitch," Davis allegedly said.
Harris says the manager meanwhile had been trying to walk away from the scene but re-emerged when another customer began to call the police.
Rather than calm down as the manager requested, according to the complaint, Davis apparently boiled over when Harris called him "racist."
"Davis approached Harris and slammed his hands on the check-out counter, pointed his finger to within an inch of Harris' face and screamed, 'I am sick of [Harris] using the system, that's all y'all (sic) people do,'" the complaint states.
Humiliated but wanting to wait for the police, Harris says she walked away from the register and observed Davis assist white customers "in a completely professional manner."
"Harris proclaimed, according to the complaint, "'Damn you treated that white dude real good, oh huh, yeah.'
"Davis turned around to face Harris, laughed at her, and said, 'You bet I did.'
"Davis told Harris to 'look around, this is a mostly white area.
"Harris, finally defeated, began to cry and Davis continued to laugh.
"Biegel witnessed the entire interaction and never attempted to intervene."
The police finally came, but Harris says there was nothing they could do since she had not been injured physically.
Harris made it known, however, that she would complain to Dollar General's corporate offices.
At this point, the manager allegedly followed the shopper outside and apologized.
In addition to pleading with Harris not to use her name, according to the complaint, the manager told Harris that "Woody is not a racist," and that "this is a mostly white area."
Harris says Dollar General pushed her to accept a apology from Davis so that he could return to work, but that he never called her to do so.
Meantime, "Harris began experiencing some complications with her pregnancy, due in part to the stress and depression she was feeling because Davis and Biegel," according to the complaint.
Dollar General and the store manager moved to dismiss the second amended complaint that Harris filed in May.
On Oct. 21, U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer dismissed only the shopper's claims for negligent infliction of emotional distress and violations of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
Amending those claims would be futile, according to the 2-page order, but Harris can still pursue her federal discrimination claims and her claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The court's order relies on a 14-page report and recommendation from U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Pupo Lenihan.
Dollar General's parent Dolgen is based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee. The company did not return a request for comment.
Court records show it is represented by Sidney Steinberg with the Philadelphia firm Post & Schell.
Harris is represented by Pittsburgh attorney Martell Harris of Kraemer Manes & Associates.
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