A California man said he left his local Staples store Oct. 27 extremely offended after he saw one employee wearing black face as part of her Halloween costume.
Harrold Leffall was in the Staples in Pleasant Hill when he asked an employee a question about the cash registers, according to the SFGate. When the worker faced him, he received quite a shock.
"She turned around and I was so surprised because of her face," he said. "It was a white lady with blackface, and it really startled me."
He immediately stopped another employee to lodge a complaint. But, the other employee said that the woman was meant to be dressed as a sharpie pen.
"I said, 'I don't know what that is, but to me, that looks like blackface," said Leffall. "'All I see is a white person with blackface. I don't see a Sharpie pen or anything like that.'"
Blackface is a form of theatrical makeup used by white performers in the 1800s to mock African Americans.
He wasn't the only one offended. Another woman told KGO-TV that she, too, confronted Staples staff after seeing the woman's costume.
Customer Geneen Bland told the employee that her costume "looks like black face."
The worker said that wasn't her intention and that she was meant to be dressed as a beauty shop customer -- she said her face was black because she was supposed to be wearing a charcoal mask.
According to Staples, the employee works for the third-party company Marketsource and was contracted through HP.
Staples has since issued a statement on the matter:
A representative from HP who was in one of our stores wore a costume for Halloween that they intended to have represent an office product, but didn't realize it could be considered offensive to some of our customers. While it was unintentional, it was still inappropriate and once this was raised to the representative, they immediately removed the costume. Staples apologizes to any customers that may have viewed a photo of the associate on social media. We respect diversity and try to foster a sense of diversity and inclusion in our stores, as well as provide an atmosphere in which all customers feel comfortable.
Nonetheless, Leffall says that he does not plan on shopping at Staples any time in the future.
"A company that doesn't have a level of sensitivity to a struggle of a people that is a large part of their customer base is not a company that I am going to support."
Marketsource has confirmed that the worker has since been suspended.