UPDATED -- Safeway Issues Statement About Incident at Southwest Store

June 16, 2011

by Charles Allen

Many of you may have seen the reports in Metro Weekly and other media outlets regarding the incident between a gay couple, an employee, and a epithet at the Southwest Safeway grocery store.

Upon learning of it last night, Tommy tweeted the following:

"Unbelievable and absolutely unacceptable. I expect and await an official response from Safeway ASAP. http://t.co/H5h3B6h"

This morning, we heard from Mr. Craig Muckle, Manager, Public Affairs and Government Relations Eastern Division Safeway Inc., issuing the following statement on behalf of Safeway:

"We extend our sincerest apologies to Mr. Morgan and Mr. Harrington for the completely unacceptable comments by our employee.  Safeway employs and serves people from all backgrounds, and absolutely does not condone discrimination or intolerance of any kind by any staff member.  The company is reviewing the matter and will take appropriate corrective action."

As we learn more information about the actions taken, we will update on Tommy's blog.

UPDATED, 6/16/2011, 6:00 PM

At 6:00 pm this evening, we received a follow-up statement by Safeway from Eastern Division President Steven Neibergall:

"We were shocked and appalled to learn of the statements made to two of our valued customers by one of our employees. This incident is personally offensive to me and to the rest of the men and women who proudly represent us in our stores. This goes against everything we believe and practice in terms of serving and welcoming our customers, and in being a part of the diverse communities we are privileged to serve. We are at a loss to explain how one of our employees, even one who has been on the job for less than a month, could consider this kind of behavior to be acceptable.  The employee has been terminated.

Besides investigating the incident itself, we also are looking into the unsatisfactory response our customers received when they attempted to bring this to the attention of local store management. The complaint should have been dealt with immediately and we apologize that this was not the case.

We have reached out to the customers involved to extend our sincere apology. We are truly sorry this happened in our store and are taking decisive and urgent action to ensure it does not happen again to any customer in any of the communities we serve. No one should face what these customers faced, and we are humbly sorry it happened to them in our store."



CM Wells, again, you have proven why you are one of the most honorable Councilmembers. You have "always" come to the aide of your constituents, and in doing so you have always been fearless; you work tirelessly for us, and we appreciate you and your efforts on our behalf.

You have always stood strong on issues that negatively impact and affect those residents not only in Ward 6 but throughtout the District of Columbia and this issues of blant bigotry is just one example.

Bigotry in any form is unacceptable!

Thank you again for being "my Councilmember", I look forward to pushing you to run for Mayor of the District of Columbia. The entire city could benefit greatly from your leadership.

OK, let's unpack this a bit. Safeway says it "absolutely does not condone discrimination or intolerance of any kind by any staff member," then says it is "reviewing" the matter and will take "appropriate" action, almost a week after it happened? There is no question about what happened - you can go online and see a freaking video of the employee admitting what she called the customers. It seems to me that if Safeway really felt the way this statement claims it does, the matter would have been settled days ago.

If the tables were turned and a gay man called her an "unacceptable" word, would Safeway have acted sooner? And swifter?

How could an employee of any place not know that calling customers names like this would be inappropriate? Come on, who doesn't know that the four letter f-bomb is not to be dropped at the checkout?
I question Safeway's employee training.
How badly do I want my frozen dinner or bunch of spinach?
I have never had a problem, but I am sure now that doesn't mean that problems do not exist there.
Does some public official (in now way do I want to lessen what Tommy has done here. He is once again our champion in W6) have to get involved for even a statement to come out of Safeway?

One feels only pity for the employee. She is clearly ignorant and beyond incapable of working with the public.

Safeway, a huge corporation, is truly the villain in its inane handling of this incident at every turn including its late and somewhat curious statement.

Kudos to Councilmember Wells and staff.

THANK YOU CM WELLS! I wish more city employees were as proactive as you.

This atricle achieved exactly what I wanted it to achieve.

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