Demand Apology and Retraining After Store’s Alleged Discrimination

Target: Howard R. Levine, CEO of Family Dollar

Goal: Apologize to gay customer and retrain Family Dollar staff and managers in customer service and behavior.

A gay woman was reportedly denied service at a New Orleans Family Dollar. When Mellisa Langford approached the checkout counter, she heard the attendant vocally expressing her homophobic views. Hurt by the experience, Ms. Langford informed the cashier that she was herself a gay woman and that the attendant’s statements bothered her. The cashier responded by refusing service to Melissa Langford and to another customer who came to her defense. That behavior is unacceptable. Tell Family Dollar to hold its employees to a higher standard.

The discrimination at Family Dollar extends beyond the service staff to the managerial level. Enraged by her experience at the checkout, Ms. Langford reportedly took her complaint to the store manager. Rather than disciplining the employee who had verbally accosted and refused to serve a customer, the manager washed her hands of the matter. Melissa Langford told The Times-Picayune that the manager said, “I can’t control nothing. She can say and do what she wants.”

Melissa Langford says that she has taken her complaints to Family Dollar’s headquarters but received no response. Tell the company that discriminatory behavior by its employs should not be tolerated and that Ms. Langford deserves an apology for her miserable experience.


Dear Mr. Levine,

A New Orleans woman had an unacceptable experience in one of your stores. When she objected to the homophobic vitriol allegedly spouted by a cashier during checkout, she was denied service for being gay and the store manager refused to take any action to correct the situation. Adding insult to injury, Melissa Langford—the woman who was denied service—has yet to receiver a response to her complaint from Family Dollar’s headquarters. Customer service should mean more to you and your employees.

Ms. Langford was precisely right when she told The Times-Picayune, “Whether I’m right or wrong, [the cashier] shouldn’t be treating a customer this way, and she can’t deny people service just because she feels like it.” It is bad enough that a customer was subjected to hateful comments so intense that she reportedly wanted to cry on the spot. It is unthinkable that the same employee who so upset a customer would be able to deny her service with impunity. As Ms. Langford remembered her fellow customer and defender saying, “‘Why are you going to hate on people for who they are, and they’re spending their money here just like everybody else?”

Please act to correct your company’s miserable failure in customer service. The very least Melissa Langford deserves from your company is a prompt apology for her experience. Your responsibilities do not end there, however. Please ensure that staff and managers alike are retrained in customer service and appropriate workplace behavior.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Mike Mozart

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