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Walgreens Race Bias Case Moves Forward

Eric Simple, an African-American, worked for several years at a Walgreens store in Normal, Ill., as a management trainee and as an assistant manager. His goal was to one day manage a Walgreens, but his district manager, Michael Palmer, offered him management posts in predominately black, low-income areas where Simple felt his chances for success were limited.

So when a managerial position became available in October 2003 in a location Simple desired and he was not told about it until after the position had been filled by a white candidate with less experience, he became upset.

Palmer offered Simple a store to manage in Kankakee, Ill., which Simple describes as a "socioeconomically challenged" area with high "shrink," which means there is a gap between expected and actual profits due to shoplifting. The following year Palmer offered Simple two more stores, both of which he rejected. The average annual income of customers of those stores was less than $40,000, and more than 40 percent of the customers were black.

Later, when the Pontiac position opened, Palmer promoted a white woman, Melissa Jonland, to manage the store. In that store customers' average income was between $40,000 and $60,000, and more than 80 percent of the customers were white. Simple, who had two more years of experience as an assistant manager than Jonland, was upset because he was never notified of the opening. That's when Turley made the comment.

Managing Editor

Yesenia Salcedo

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