St. Louis Grocery Store Apologizes After Clerk Refuses to Sell Money Order to Black Couple

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A couple attempted to purchase a money order at Schnucks Concord Village in St. Louis but were initially denied over alleged concerns of fraud. Google Maps

A grocery store in St. Louis has apologized after an employee initially refused to sell a money order to a black couple. Schnucks CEO Todd Schnuck announced Tuesday that the employee had been fired after a video of the incident went viral.

"I deeply apologize to the customers and am incredibly disappointed in the poor judgment that was used in handling this incident," Schnuck said in a statement provided to Newsweek.

Video of the incident at the Schnucks Concord Village was shared on Facebook by Kellen Hill on Monday. Hill needed to get a $1,100 money order to pay for rent at the Schnucks Supermarket, he said in his Facebook post. He first attempted to use a debit card to purchase the money order but after the employee saw Hill's Florida-issued driver's license, he declined, citing concerns about potential fraud.

"It's really sad that you can't be black and buy a money order without being accused of fraud," Hill wrote on Facebook. He said that the store clerk called the police and accused he and his girlfriend of being "disorderly."

In his statement, Schnuck said that the couple was initially denied the money order due to multiple incidents where individuals used stolen debit cards and out-of-state identification cards to buy high-dollar money orders. Hill was then asked to use cash to make the purchase.

Hill said he had his girlfriend come from work with the $1,100 in cash. "Later in the day, the customer complied with the request, when his [girlfriend] returned to the store with cash," Schnuck said. "The money order should have been sold to her at that point. It was not."

In other videos, Hill shows his upset girlfriend crying as Hill argues with the employee. Several fellow customers can be seen sympathizing with the distressed couple and speaking up on their behalf.

"She did what you wanted her to do," one customer tells the employee. The customer tries to reason with the employee, telling him that the couple has the money in cash. Meanwhile, another customer asks if someone else can purchase the money order on behalf of the couple.

"I'd rather not do that," the employee tells the woman.

Hill asked the man if he was being denied a money order due to a "new policy that just happened" and the employee says yes. However, the employee refused to tell Hill when the new policy was enacted.

"I'm trying to help you keep your job," Hill tells the employee, "because racial profiling is not good, bro."

The employee responds, "We're not racial profiling." The couple was eventually given the money order, and the employee was fired.

"Although the teammate was focused on the recent increase in fraud, once the customer produced cash for the transaction, the money order should have been sold without further issue. I want our customers to feel welcomed and respected in our stores and I sincerely apologize for how our customers were treated in this instance," Schnuck said. "We have also extended an offer to the customers to meet with them in person to offer our apologies as well."

Hills did not immediately respond to a request for comment. However, he thanked people for their support in several posts and wrote: "Seeing all races come together to fight against a huge problem that is destroying our country is extremely satisfying."

The incident comes on the heels of a similar situation at a Nordstrom Rack. Store executives were forced to apologize after three young black men said they were followed and falsely accused of stealing.