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Lawsuit accuses Walmart of racial discrimination, locking up African-American hair products

A California woman shopping at Walmart said she was shocked to find beauty products used by African-Americans shelved behind locked glass.

According to KCBS, Essie Grundy, 43, said it is the first time she’s directly experienced racism, and she decided to file a racial discrimination lawsuit against the retail giant. The product in question was a 49-cent comb she originally purchased with no problem at the Riverside Walmart, according to the lawsuit.

>> Dove apologizes after Facebook ad called racially insensitive

Grundy said that when she went to her local Walmart in Perris, she found the comb and other products used by African-Americans behind glass.

“It was such a good product, I wanted to introduce it to my older children,” Grundy said, according to KCBS. “They didn’t have any more at the original Walmart that I got it from, so I went to my neighborhood one, and that’s when I noticed all of the African-American products were locked up under lock and key.”

>> Customers slam Shea Moisture ad campaign; some compare to Pepsi ad

She said she was shocked that the products would be locked away, and she asked a store manager to change the policy, but the manager refused.

Similar complaints have been made by groups such as Making Change at Walmart, which has described the lock-and-key policy as a “discriminatory practice.”

Grundy is being represented by women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred, who said they’re seeking a court injunction to halt Walmart’s practice of locking up these products.

Walmart spokesman Charles Crowson said in a statement that the company does not discriminate, but that it will review Grundy’s complaint. He said some products, such as baby formula and razors, are more frequently targeted by shoplifters, and that certain products are kept locked because of a greater risk of theft.

>> Read more trending news 

“We’re sensitive to this situation and also understand, like other retailers, that some products such as electronics, automotive, cosmetics and other personal care products are subject to additional security,” Crowson said. “Those determinations are made on a store-by-store basis using data supporting.”

Hand-me-down toys could pose serious health risks for kids, study says

Do you accept second-hand toys? Beware, because they could pose serious health risks for children, according to a new report. 

Researchers from the University of Plymouth recently conducted an experiment, published in Environmental Science and Technology, to determine the dangers of passed-down toys. 

>> Toys 'R' Us to close up to 182 stores nationwide; see the full list

To do so, they used X-ray fluorescence technology to examine 200 plastic toys, such as cars, trains, figures and puzzles, which were found in nurseries, thrift shops and homes across England. They were inspecting the items for nine hazardous elements, including antimony, barium, bromine, cadmium, chromium, lead and selenium.

After analyzing the results, they found that 20 toys had traces of all nine elements, which can be chronically toxic if children are exposed to them at low levels. If the kids put the products in their mouths, they can be introduced to the toxins faster.

>> Consumer safety group W.A.T.C.H. unveils 'most dangerous' toys list

"Consumers should be made more aware of the potential risks associated with small, mouthable and brightly coloured old plastic toys or components,” coauthor Andrew Turner told BBC. "Without that, the attractive cost, convenience and recyclability of previously used toys has the potential to create a legacy of chemical contamination for younger children."

Furthermore, a few of the toys didn’t comply with standards set by the European Council's Toy Safety Directive. In fact, red, yellow or black plastics were the worst, because they had too much too much bromine, cadmium or lead.

>> Read more trending news 

While scientists said second-hand toys “are an attractive option,” parents should use with caution. They also believe risky toys should be taken off the market altogether. 

Caught on camera: Uncovered raw meat transported in shopping carts to supermarket

A California supermarket is facing backlash after a shopper captured a disturbing image.

Loretto Seto took the photo Thursday outside of 99 Ranch Market in San Jose. She was shocked to find slabs of uncovered raw meat being wheeled into the store in Costco shopping carts.

>> Read more trending news 

She posted the photo on Facebook to warn shoppers about the meat at 99 Ranch Market and the potentially contaminated Costco shopping carts. The image caught the attention of local health officials, who are now investigating the incident, The Modesto Bee reported.

A 99 Ranch Market representative replied to Seto on Facebook, saying that an internal investigation had been opened and the meat in question had been discarded. The representative said that the men in the photo were not supermarket employees, but workers from the supermarket’s meat vendor, Jim's Farm Meat Co. Inc. The workers have been fired, The Modesto Bee reported.

Sudden closure of Sam's Club's violated federal law, Georgia state official says

Walmart violated federal law when the company suddenly closed a Sam’s Club in DeKalb County, according to a Georgia state lawmaker.

>> Read more trending news

The store in Stonecrest -- the only Sam’s Club location to close in Georgia of more than 60 to close nationwide -- has had a sign on its door for the past two weeks that says the store is closed.

The nearly 200 employees who used to work inside the store, along with vendors and customers, said they got zero notice ahead of time that the store was shutting its doors. The lack of warning violated the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN, Act, said Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones.

>> Related: Sam's Club abruptly closes locations across the country

The act says large employers are required by law to give workers a 60-day notice before terminating their employment. Walmart officials said the company gave notice the day the stores closed and that employees aren’t officially terminated until they stop getting severance payments in mid-March.

Walmart officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Company tells Vietnamese man: 'If you no speak English, I will send you home'

The family of a Vietnamese man who received an email written in broken English after he applied for a job is speaking out to KIRO7.com.

A viral tweet posted by the man's daughter prompted the company to fire its human resources manager.

>> Read more trending news

For 18-year-old high school student Emily Huynh, her father, Minh, is her hero. That's why she got upset when she saw an email he received from the human resources manager of Dash Delivery LLC, a company based in Everett, Washington, where he had applied to be a driver.

It said, "Let me tell you now. If you no speak English. I will send you home."

“I looked at it and said, ‘Wait,’” Huynh said. “Why are you mocking my dad’s English?”

Huynh posted the email on her Twitter account and immediately got hundreds of responses, many from outraged people.

Huynh called the email "insulting" and "ignorant."

“He knew what he was planning to say,” Huynh said. “The email takes typing. He knew what he was trying to tell my dad.”

Less than 24 hours after Huynh’s tweet was posted, her father got a letter of apology from Kevin Bus, the owner of the delivery company.

Bus said the communication was "inappropriate and inconsistent with our company's values."

Bus also said the company is reviewing and re-evaluating best practices to ensure the situation doesn’t repeat itself.

Huynh said that because of her tweet, job offers have been coming in for her father, who emigrated to the United States from Vietnam to provide a better life for his family.

KIRO7.com tried to contact to the human resources manager directly, but we were not able to reach him.

Weiss Ratings grades cryptocurrencies: Ethereum gets a B, Bitcoin a C+

Unveiling its cryptocurrency grades, Weiss Ratings said Wednesday that Ethereum rates a B, or “good,” while Bitcoin gets just a C+, for fair. No virtual money earned an A, or “excellent.”

>> What is bitcoin? What you need to know about cryptocurrency

Meanwhile, Weiss Ratings founder Martin Weiss said his staff was up all night fending off denial of service attacks. The Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, company responded to the cyberattacks by expanding its server capacity.

>> On MyPalmBeachPost.com: Amid Bitcoin craze, Weiss Ratings to launch cryptocurrency ratings

“Commentary on social media expressed considerable fear we were about to release negative ratings on their preferred currencies,” Weiss said. “So this may be an attempt to thwart our release today.” 

In addition to swarming its servers, Weiss said, cryptocurrency partisans also spread phony ratings of their preferred alt-coins.

The new Weiss Cryptocurrency Ratings evaluate alt-coins on price risk, reward potential, blockchain technology, adoption, security and other factors. Some of the grades: 

• Bitcoin (C+) gets high marks for security and widespread adoption but low grades for network bottlenecks and steep transaction costs. 

• Ethereum (B), the second most popular cryptocurrency, “benefits from more readily upgradable technology and better speed, despite some bottlenecks,” Weiss said. 

• Novacoin (D) and SaluS (D) get subpar grades driven by a lack of technological innovation and meager adoption. 

>> Read more trending news 

• Steem gets a B-, thanks to “a relatively good balance of moderate strength in nearly all the key factors considered along with a social network feature,” Weiss says.

While Weiss doled out no As, he doesn’t consider himself a hater of virtual money

“Despite extreme price volatility, cryptocurrencies have a bright future and the potential to deliver unusually large profits to investors,” Weiss said. “However, the market is hectic and confusing for investors. They need the clarity that only robust, impartial ratings can provide.” 

Toys 'R' Us to close up to 182 stores nationwide; see the full list

Iconic children's retailer Toys 'R' Us plans to close as many as 182 stores nationwide, the chain said in court documents Tuesday.

>> See the full list of stores set to close

The New Jersey-based company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September, has about 880 U.S. stores and 1,600 worldwide, CNN Money reported.

>> Read the court documents here

"The reinvention of our brands requires that we make tough decisions about our priorities and focus," Dave Brandon, Toys 'R' Us chairman and CEO, said in a letter posted on the company's website. "To that end and following a top-to-bottom assessment of our business, we have decided to close a number of our U.S. stores. We also intend to convert a number of locations into co-branded Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us stores. The actions we are taking are necessary to give us the best chance to emerge from our bankruptcy proceedings as a more viable and competitive company that will provide the level of service and experience you should expect from a market leader."

>> Toys ‘R’ Us files for bankruptcy: 3 things to know

>> Read more trending news 

If approved, "we estimate store closing sales to begin in early February, with the majority of locations closing in mid-April 2018," Brandon wrote.

>> Read the full memo here

>> Is your store closing? Click here or scroll down to find out

Cheesecake Factory's famous brown bread is headed to grocery stores

Cheesecake Factory fans rejoice! Starting this week, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the restaurant’s staples in the comfort of your own home.

The chain has announced that it’s rolling out its popular brown bread to grocery stores nationwide. The bread will be available to customers for purchase in three different forms: an eight-pack of heat-and-serve dinner rolls, a two-pack with mini baguettes or pre-sliced sandwich loaves. 

>> Read more trending news 

The rolls and baguettes have a suggested price of $3.49, while the sandwich loaves are listed for $4.49.

The bread made from whole wheat flour is similar in calorie count to bread from other brands, coming in at just 110 calories per dinner roll and 80 calories per loaf slice.

People who have tried it reportedly have confirmed that it’s just as soft, chewy and slightly sweet as it is when you visit the Cheesecake Factory – just heat up the rolls or baguettes in the oven for five minutes at 350 degrees. Once they’re done, top them with butter or your favorite spread to add flavor.

The brown bread is part of the restaurant’s Cheesecake Factory at Home line, which includes several other products — cheesecake mix, coffee creamer and chocolates — that are available at grocery stores.

Kroger looking to partner with Overstock.com: report

Kroger is considering teaming up with Overstock.com Inc. in an effort to compete with online retailers.

>> Read more trending news

The New York Post reported the Cincinnati-based grocer may be eyeing a deal with Overstock.com, according to sources. Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne said last year that he plans to sell or reorganize the e-commerce business to focus on blockchain technology. Kroger did not comment on the possible deal.

Overstock.com is based in Utah, and launched in 1999. The online retailer sells everything from furniture, rugs, decor and clothing to kitchen supplies, jewelry and toys.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: Kroger to roll out digital aisle displays that connect to smartphones

If Kroger acquired Overstock.com, it would be yet another grocery chain to partner with an online retailer. Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market for nearly $14 billion in August 2017. Amazon announced it would immediately lower prices at Whole Foods and switch things up for consumers.

>> Related: Amazon raises monthly Prime membership rate

“This is just the beginning – we will make Amazon Prime the customer rewards program at Whole Foods Market and continuously lower prices as we invent together,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO of AmazonWorldwide Consumer. “There is significant work and opportunity ahead, and we’re thrilled to get started.”

Online grocery shopping is making major gains, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2017 report. The number of shoppers buying some of their groceries online jumped to 11 percent in the first quarter compared to 5 percent in 2016, according to the report.

Amazon raises monthly Prime membership rate

The monthly membership fee for Amazon Prime rose Friday from $10.99 to $12.99.

Company officials said the annual membership will remain at $99 dollars.

>> Read more trending news

Monthly customers do not get access to Amazon Video, which costs $8.99 a month.

The last Prime subscription hike came in 2014, when Amazon increased its yearly membership from $79 to $99.

>> Related: Amazon announces final 20 cities in the running for second headquarters

The e-commerce company did not give a reason for the price increase.

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