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City of LA Issues Historic Citation for Discrimination: Smart & Final and Security Service Fined

Posted on 03/11/2024
Capri standing in front of podium for the first CRE Press Conference

LOS ANGELES, CA - Monday, March 11, 2024 - Today, Los Angeles City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez (CD13), and LA Civil Rights Department Executive Director Capri Maddox, announced a significant milestone: the City's inaugural citation under Civil Rights law. This Notice of Violation follows an investigation into a discrimination claim made by an African-American shopper against two private entities, Smart & Final Stores, LLC, and Non-Stop Security Services. Upon filing the complaint, the LA Civil Rights Department promptly initiated an investigation, which ultimately revealed discriminatory practices by the two companies against the complainant, constituting violations of Civil and Human Rights Law.

The incident in question occurred on September 22, 2022, when Mr. Corey Brown, an African-American male, entered the Smart & Final grocery store on Figueroa St. He was informed by security personnel that in order to enter the store, he must remove his backpack and leave it at the front. Mr. Brown chose to drop off his bag  at home, only to find upon his return to the store that customers of different races were permitted to shop with their backpacks. This disparity prompted Mr. Brown to file a complaint with the LA Civil Rights Department, initiating a thorough investigation that included interviews revealing the implementation of a "bag policy" at the specific Smart & Final location, which was discriminatorily enforced based on customers' appearances.

Following this investigation, the LA Civil Rights Department issued a Notice of Violation against Smart & Final Stores, LLC, and its vendor, Non-Stop Security Services. Smart & Final Stores, LLC, faces a $10,000 penalty, while Non-Stop Security Services initially received a $5,000 fine. However, Non-Stop Security Services has since agreed to a settlement involving a reduced fine and a commitment to training their guards to prevent similar incidents in the future.

This enforcement action by the LA Civil Rights Department is historic and underscores the City's commitment to upholding civil rights for all Angelenos. Individuals who encounter civil rights violations in the private sector areas of commerce, education, employment, and housing, are encouraged to report such incidents by calling 213-978-1845 or filing a complaint at

"The Civil Rights Enforcement Unit has only existed for a few years, and they are already making Los Angeles a more just and equitable city," said LA City Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez, who chairs the City Council's Civil Rights Committee. "This enforcement should send a clear message to unscrupulous actors in Los Angeles -- we are ready to come after you and make sure that this city's commerce, education, employment and housing are free of discrimination."

“We want the public to know that discrimination will not be tolerated in Los Angeles and the LA Civil Rights Department can and will enforce violations of Civil and Human Rights Law against private entities where criteria are met,” said LA Civil Rights Executive Director Capri Maddox. 

“Ensuring Civil Rights protection while prosecuting against hate is fundamental to our Department’s mission,” said Kim Kasreliovich, Assistant General Manager, Civil Rights Enforcement Unit. “Anyone experiencing discrimination in private commerce, education, employment or housing should know that they can file a complaint with our office by calling 213-978-1845 or at Our investigators will take your complaint very seriously.”

ABOUT LA Civil Rights Enforcement Unit

The Civil Rights Enforcement is a unit in the City of Los Angeles Civil, Human Rights and Equity Department that enforces discrimination against private entities in commerce, education, employment, and housing using the City’s Civil and Human Rights Law. The Department can investigate discrimination complaints and enforce discrimination violations in the private sector if the incident occurred within the City of Los Angeles, occurred within three years of the complaint form submission, and pertains to one of the protected classes (such as race, gender, religion, etc.). After the complaint is filed and reviewed, a civil rights enforcement team member will follow-up with the complainant or direct the complainant to other resources for more assistance.


Civil Rights Enforcement Discrimination Poster