This incident of harrassment by a Safeway Store Manager happened today, June 9, 2008 at around 5:15 in the afternoon.
I was buying a cake for a birthday party, I asked Maribel (in charge of bakery) to print the "Annie Happy Birthday". She said she will call someone bec. she does'nt know how to and she's just helping in that department. She called Michael R. the manager. I told him use color green frosting. I noticed that he is writing directly on top of the cake that has a lot of white chocolate shavings. I ask him if he can use a plastic on top of the cake and that is where he is going to write bec what he did doesn’t look good. He said they run out of that plastic. So I told him, it's okay don't print happy birthday anymore. He asked "are you sure"? and I said yes. He then ask Maribel to put it in the box, this Maribel is trying to fit the 8 inches cake to a small box because she said they run out of box for that size of cake. So Michael R., took the black round cake plate and tried to put the plastic cover which was too small for the cake too. apparently they run out of the taller cover too, but he keep on looking and looking and pulling containers from the cabinet where they put the supplies for boxes and he is starting to get upset. So I said "I'm not getting that cake anymore, I've been waiting for almost an hour already, I'll just get this one"; referring to another cake on display and already in a prepared container. He got very upset and told me “I will give you that cake for free but I want you to know that I do not like the way you talked to us and treat my employee” among other things and he was yelling at me. When I told him that I am a customer who is just telling him what I want, he angrily and arrogantly retorted "that is not acceptable, you have to go out of this store. Go out of this store, you are very rude to my staff, leave this store if not I will call security, I will call police, etc". So I told him, "Why are you doing this to us, we did not do anything wrong, why are you harassing us?” This time people are all looking at us. Some are laughing, some are just looking because he is yelling and pulling the cart from us. We were so scared, we were so embarrassed, and I feel that I am being harrassed by this person because I am an Asian, I was stammering because I was scared and embarrassed and can't speak clear English.
Because I really needed the cake and ice cream for the birthday party, I stayed by the counter and paid for those, but Michael R. continued to embarrass and humiliate us by telling us to leave the store and also said that he will get the tape receipt because he will use it to file a complaint against me”. All the while, Maribel was also repetitively telling us “leave the store, get out of here now, he doesn’t want you here, you have to leave now”. So after paying, we approached the exit door and I started to make a call on my cellphone. Then we noticed another employee named Greg was looking at us so I told him “you saw what happened, right? We were not doing anything, but he was shouting at us and telling us to leave”. He said he doesn’t really know what happened so I started to tell him what happened but Michael R. barged in and told us again to leave the store. Greg told us that we really have to leave because the law says that when the manager wants us to leave then it is against the law to stay and we are trespassing. So, feeling bad and humiliated as we were, we left the premises.
In my 14 years of residence in California, I never thought that I will be subjected to such an unfortunate and humiliating experience. And on top of it, Michael R. harassed me in front of other people and of my sister who is a tourist and this gave her a very ugly impression of the kind of treatment an Asian like me got in a country where human rights is supposed to be upheld and respected more than anywhere else in the world.
This incident should not happen again. Michael R. does not deserve to be a manager, he does not have the right to harass and treat customers that way. If he continues to work as a manager, I’m sure this will happen again, because he abuse his authority as a manager and feels that he can throw out anybody when he’s upset. I am hoping for your action on my complaint against Michael R.
Very truly yours,
LEILANI F. CORTES