SEATTLE - QFC issued an apology and suspended a manager in Capitol Hill after seeing a video of two customers who claim they were being racially harassed.
Adrian Marshall and Mussie Alemu say they were inside the QFC at the Harvard Market store on Tuesday afternoon to buy food at the deli.
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"The worker demanded that we pay right at the spot," Alemu said. "We want to grab drinks and we want to grab other stuff, so the manager started following us all the way to the cash register."
Marshall began recording video on his cell phone while the two were in the self check-out line. In the video, you can see the manager standing directly behind the customers while they check out. The manager appears calm but it's evident the customers are frustrated by what feel is unfair treatment.
After checking out, in the video Marshall asks, "Did we do something wrong?"
The manager is heard replying, "I just wanted to make sure you were okay ringing everything up."
The manager also mentioned that he thinks one of the men may be high. Then, he takes a picture of at least one of the customers before having security kick them out of the store.
The customers are heard asking several times what they did wrong. As the customers leave, they asked him again why they were being kicked out. The manager responded by saying, "he continues to swear in the store and you're continuing to tell me it's okay to do that."
Marshall and Alemu feel they were targeted for a reason.
"I think it's because I'm African-American. I mean, I've been through this before. I don't really want to sugar coat it," he said.
QFC released this statement:
“This should not have happened. As president of QFC, I apologize on behalf of our entire team to the customers involved. QFC has placed this store manager on suspension until we have all the facts. We are actively reviewing this incident. Our store associates are participating in a training this year that focuses on our values and how we care for our customers, communities and each other. It will include unconscious bias training.”
Marshall and Alemu never heard from QFC following Tuesday's incident. They only heard about the apology through KIRO 7.
For Alemu, the apology helped, but he hopes it does happen again. Marshall says the company should apologize directly.
"It just hurts my heart that this is still even occurring, you know?" Marshall said. "All I could do was record. I felt beyond powerless."
Online, multiple customers of the QFC stood up for the manager, who KIRO 7 is not naming or showing. They said the long-time employee is always kind and believe this was likely a misunderstanding.
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