Cashier At Hazlet Costco Goes On Anti-Semitic Tirade, Suit Says
April 8, 2020
HAZLET, NJ — A cashier at the Hazlet Costco on Rt. 35 went on an anti-Semitic tirade in front of a customer, according to a lawsuit filed against Costco by that customer, a Middletown man.
A copy of the lawsuit has been obtained by Patch. It was filed Monday, Aug. 26 in Monmouth County Superior Court.
The customer is Irwin Wayne Levy, who lives in the Leonardo section of Middletown. The incident happened when he was at the checkout line at the Costco on April 7 of this year. His son, Justin, has worked as a supervisor at the store for over a year, and Levy said he has shopped at the Hazlet Costco for many years and is considered a regular at the store.
The encounter started out innocently enough that day. According to the lawsuit, as Levy stood to check out, a store manager asked a woman working the checkout line: “Do you know whose father this is? This is Justin’s Dad.”
That’s when another employee, working at an adjacent register, overheard the conversation and interjected herself. She allegedly asked Levy in a sarcastic tone, “Oh, I know where he [Justin] gets his good looks from.”
Levy said he was extremely unsettled and offended by her statement. To avoid further confrontation, he replied “No, his good looks are from his mother,” according to the lawsuit.
She then asked: “How much of Justin is Jewish?”
Levy said he was completely shocked and disturbed and replied, “Excuse me? What do you mean by that?” She said she wanted to know, according to the lawsuit, because she was “curious.”
Levy, extremely uncomfortable with the direction of the conversation, simply answered: “[Justin] is half Catholic from his mother and half Jewish from me.”
She then allegedly said “I don’t think so. He [Justin] has to be more Jewish than that!”
He replied: “Do you mean that [Justin has to be more Jewish than that] in a good or bad way?”
She allegedly replied: “In a bad way of course!”
Levy said he was so horrified, he paid for his purchases and tried to leave the store, but the employee would not leave him alone. She continued to follow him, stating “Jews only see things in black and white with no grey area; just like Justin,” according to the lawsuit.
He said she continued to berate him with inappropriate comments, accusations and insults about his son and their Jewish faith for over five minutes until another cashier told her to get back to work.
Levy said that he reported the incident to a manager, and that his son later reported the incident to Costco HR. But nothing was ever done and the employee was never punished or reprimanded for her statements, according to the lawsuit.
Costco Wholesale Corporation, the cashier and her direct manager have all been named as defendants.
“Her inappropriate remarks would have been bad enough in private, let alone publicly in the Hazlet location while other Costco employees and customers watched,” read the suit. “Costco is attempting to sweep (her) despicable conduct under the rug.”
Levy said he and his son were discriminated against on the grounds of their religion. He is seeking compensatory damages, and would like Costco to pay his legal fees for the suit. But his lawsuit also asks that the Hazlet Costco implement anti-discrimination training, anti-harassment training and workplace civility training.
Levy also said he no longer feels comfortable shopping at the Hazlet Costco.
“As alleged in the complaint, while shopping at a Costco store and minding his own business, Mr. Levy was subjected to egregious anti-Semitism and discrimination by a Costco employee,” said Christian McOmber, Levy’s lawyer. “This type of conduct has no place in a civilized society, let alone in a place of public accommodation.”
“Quite simply, Costco has not taken the matter seriously and has not taken accountability for its own obvious failures and the actions of its employee,” he added.
The Hazlet Costco fails to have in place “well-publicized and enforced anti-harassment policies, effective formal and informal complaint structures and …. having actual knowledge of the harassment of Levy, failed to promptly and effectively act to stop it,” Levy and his lawyer argue.
The Hazlet Costco declined to comment when called by Patch. Other employees who witnessed the incident that day told Levy to speak with a manager, according to the lawsuit. However, the cashier who made the comments has not been fired or disciplined for it.
The lawsuit was first reported on by NJ Advance Media.