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It may be unusual for shoppers to whip out $100 bills at Walmart but that doesn't excuse the clerk who ripped up a customer's legitimate bills when she tried to pay.
Julia Garcia was doing some late-night Christmas shopping in December 2010 when she pulled out a $100 bill to pay for her purchases. The cashier took it, spoke briefly to another cashier, and then ripped the bill in half. He hadn't done any counterfeit detection that Garcia noticed.
Garcia was upset and when a manager was called over, she pulled out a second $100 bill to show him that it was legitimate. But the manager took it and ripped that one up too. Then they told her should would have to wait in the store for police to show up.
It took two hours for police to arrive and during that time Garcia had to wait in view of customers.
When others asked what was happening staff told them that she was trying to use fake currency, reports the Los Angeles Times. But when police arrived it became clear that Walmart was the one in trouble.
Police confirmed that Garcia's currency was legitimate. Rather than apologizing to Garcia, the Walmart manager looked upset by the news, according to CBS. Now she's suing them for false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Stores are allowed to detain customers if they have reason to believe the person is shoplifting, such as if they present counterfeit bills. But Walmart failed to follow the rules and didn't appear to have an objective reason before they made Garcia wait.
Instead of testing her bills both the cashier and the manager ripped them up.
If they had actually checked and found evidence of counterfeit they might be able to argue there was reasonable suspicion. But without any proof it's much harder for Walmart to prove that their actions were justifiable.
Proper training on how to deal with potential counterfeit could have avoided this problem and the headache it's causing the company.
Since the incident happened at work and the employees were acting in their official capacity, Walmart is the one on the hook, as the employer. While they may be able to pass the costs onto the employees, the company is the one that takes the bad publicity.
When the in-store dispute was concluded the manager reportedly tried to give Garcia back her ruined currency. Luckily a police officer intervened. He told the manager that he would have to reimburse the woman with undamaged currency.