Ka-Ching! CVS Settles Racist Receipt Lawsuit

Customer was named "Ching Chong Lee" on sales slip

CVS Pharmacy

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CVS Racist Lawsuit Settled

SEPTEMBER 5--An “ethnic Korean” woman who sued CVS after an employee changed her name to “Ching Chong Lee” on a store receipt has settled a $1 million racial discrimination lawsuit filed against the pharmacy chain, court records show.

In an August 16 U.S. District Court filing, lawyers for Hyun Jin Lee revealed that a settlement agreement had been struck with CVS and, as a result, the New Jersey resident was voluntarily dismissing her federal complaint.

The dismissal notice offers no details of the settlement agreement, though it likely included a hefty payout to the 37-year-old plaintiff. The deal was reached about two months after Lee (seen at right) filed her complaint in mid-April. A lawyer for Lee did not respond today to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment about the settlement.

In her lawsuit, Lee--who describes herself as an “adult ethnic Korean”--recalled that when she picked up photos from a CVS pharmacy in February, she was “shocked, stunned, mortified, humiliated, and severely distressed” to discover that her name had been changed to “Ching Chong Lee” on a receipt attached to an envelope.

A copy of the CVS receipt containing the racial epithet was included in Lee’s lawsuit. “Ching chong is a pejorative term sometimes used by speakers of English to mock people of Chinese ancestry, or other Asians who may be mistaken for Chinese,” the complaint contended.

“Do you think it’s funny? It’s very disturbing to me!!!!” Lee wrote in a complaint to CVS’s customer relations department. Referring to a male CVS employee she suspected of writing the slur, Lee added, “why doesn’t he just call me Chink! It has the same derogatory meaning!!!!!”

In a subsequent reply that appeared to acknowledge the company’s liability, a CVS official apologized for Lee’s “experience with the photo staff” at the Egg Harbor City store in southern New Jersey. The employee noted that “this incident will be addressed at store level,” and added that a worker identified as “William” will be “counseled and trained.” (7 pages)