Girl Accuses Store of Discrimination

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UPDATE: KEZI 9 News published an follow up article on June 12, 2013 after the Buster family retracted their discrimination claim against rue21. Click here to read the article.

EUGENE, Ore. — Shelby Buster thought her first time shopping without her mom would be fun. “Me and my friend were walking around the mall for, to spend my birthday money and my mom was sitting in the food court,” said Buster.

She said they went to the Rue 21 clothing store and received a birthday surprise she never expected. “I walked in and the lady at the front counter said hey you’re too big to be in this store, I need you to leave,” said Buster.

Buster said her friend was already in the back of the store at this point looking at perfume. “And so she checked out and walked back and my mom came back to talk to them and they’re like oh we’re so sorry,” said Buster.

After Shelby’s mom contacted us, we contacted the store. The Rue 21 district manager told us over the phone that they’re aware of the situation and are currently looking into it. Shelby’s mom had her and her friend Jennica write down exactly what happened to document what took place.

“Seriously that’s disrespectful and rude. Just because I’m bigger than you guys are, I’m not a 14 or smaller. It makes no sense why they would do that,” said Buster.

The district manager also said the store is pulling video footage from Saturday afternoon to try to figure out what happened. “It just made no sense to me. They should just have more respect, just refrain from insulting people like me and stuff,” said Buster.

Rue 21 told KEZI 9 News the company does not tolerate discrimination, but both Shelby and her mom are still waiting for a response.



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  1. anonymous says:

    I went into the rue 21 in bend oregon. And the clerk said “I’m sorry but we don’t sell size hippo.” I shrugged it off and went to get flip flops and when I went to check out she said “you think black will slim you down?” And then laughed at me. Needless to say I haven’t been back.

  2. D says:

    Well why did she go ahead and check out then? she should have just left.

    1. J says:

      I think she was referring to her friend.

  3. Kathy says:

    I want to gather a lot of fluffy woman and go in the store. Shop a long annoying amount of time and leave not appending a dime. Anyone with me?

  4. Sharon says:

    Kudos to both Shelby and her mom for not standing for that type of treatment. Mom, good job teaching your daughter to stand up for herself.

  5. don jones says:

    i doubt that happened. it is just a way to raise some school clothes money.

    1. glen says:

      I’ve had a similar experience. Went looking for some jeans in kakhi colored denim. I wear a size 46. Was told that “denim in that color is too valuable to be used on a size that big”

      This was in a MENS clothing store!!!!

    2. Helena Handbasket says:

      You clearly have no concept of what it’s like to be fat in America. This kind of rampant and gross discrimination and bigotry happens around and to us every day. It’s disgusting and it needs to be brought into the light and stopped.

    3. Inyx says:

      Yeah, let’s jump the gun on accusing the possible victim rather than a slow-to-react corporation.

    4. Pam says:

      I believe that it happened. I was dress shopping in a department store when I was younger. I did not ask anyone for help, but a saleswoman came up to me, looked down her nose and said snottily, “We don’t have anything in your size.” I was probably a size 13/14 at the time, which back then meant I weighed about 140 lbs. at 5’6″.

      1. Hey! says:

        “We don’t have anything in your size.” is not an insult.

    5. don jones says:


  6. Cheri says:

    I absolutely believe it!! My girlfriend and I went into that store a few months ago and received some terrible looks. Now, being in a same sex relationship, we are mostly used to the stares already. Honestly, I never imagined getting a stare worse than the “gay stare.” We both knew immediately after walking in to Rue 21 that we were absolutely NOT WELCOME! We hardly made it through the door before the girl behind the register was staring at us. Not only her, but it seemed every other employee was staring and glaring as well. Never did we get a “welcome,” “hi, how are you,” “this is what’s on sale” the only thing spoken to us was “goodbye!” While we were halfway out the door. My girlfriend and I both knew exactly why we were being treated this way. Both of us are larger women, at the time I think we were both 16-18 in pants. Never in my life did I think anyone in this era would treat someone so disrespectfully, unless they were a member of the Westoro Baptist Church. But even they at least give you the time of day to yell hate speech at you through your car window. The employees of Rue 21 were terrible! I am honestly so disgusted with that store! They either need to close down or have a nice, long training day or two to teach the employees how to be decent workers, maybe even rehire some people who already know how to be kind (something we are constantly learning from preschool on). I honestly hope it just gets closed down. It’s gross.

  7. not a corrporate shill says:

    I think it’s fair to try and figure out what happened, but if your immediate response is to call a victim a liar, perhaps you should try not being such a self-entitled ass, and try some empathy.
    I’m willing to bet that overweight people are discriminated against every day.

  8. Sharon says:

    Why would the girl come up with an embarrassing story like that just to raise money for school clothes? She wouldn’t. I have no doubt that what this young girl says happened to her at that store happened to her. People are discriminated against for their weight. The sales person who said that is just heartless and has no clue what this can do to a young girl’s self-esteem. Hopefully the sales person will have to pay the consequences for her behavior.

  9. Tara says:

    I DONT doubt that it happened. Most sales people in those stores are snotty little highschoolers who have no idea what customer service is.

  10. Caitlyn Hanamoto says:

    Iv’e also been asked to leave that store when walking around shopping for clothes it hurts that people are so cruel………im glad im not alone though my love goes out to the girl whoes feelings were hurt like mine

  11. mary says:

    rediculous, she could have been shopping for a gift for someone who did fit into the clothes. I dont beleive her story at all.

  12. Urinal Gum says:

    I’m having a really hard time giving a crap about this. Did you really expect VIP treatment from snobby mall workers?

  13. Suzanne says:

    I hate to think anyone would be that stupid to say something like that. I will wait to see what happens after the video tapes have been screened but I don’t think those tapes have sound so we will see. If a clerk did say that I doubt they will be employed by the end of the week.

  14. Bill Gates says:

    Rue 21 is over priced and has crappy clothes anyway.

  15. James says:

    Discrimination law applies to “protected classes of people”, based on characteristics such as religion, or sexual orientation. Size isn’t a protected class, nor should it be, so this is not anything that they can bring a lawsuit on… I don’t consider it news just because somebody in the service industry is rude to me, and this is no different.

  16. ItsNotTheSameThing says:

    I bet this happened in the Left West, where people are discriminated against, due to their looks.

  17. Jeff Dranetz says:

    So, they didn’t carry your size. Big deal. My mom was 4′ 10″, she had trouble finding clothes and bought in the children’s department sometimes. Sales clerks at these trendy mall shops are just students working part time. If you want more knowledgeable sales staff try Macy’s, These specialty mall shops have a very narrow inventory, since floor space is expensive. There is a mall shop called “Lid’s” that only sells baseball caps in various logos. I wouldn’t walk in there and ask for a Stetson. Nor would I, at 5′ 7″ shop “Big & Tall”. Do a search, you’ll find dozens and dozens of clothing store a short drive away. Those specialty mall shops are over priced, anyway. This is a “non-story”.

  18. jenna says:

    Wouldn’t be surprised at all if this is true, I had this exact same thing happen to me at Forever 21 a while ago. They need to train their employees to not be so rude and drive away business, I haven’t been back since.

  19. Levi says:

    Wonder how security tapes will help, since most don’t carry audio. From the description, the video would look like this, from an overhead angle – “girl walks in, maybe stops as the clerk says SOMETHING, walks to her friend, then they both walk out”. No way to tell what the clerk said unless it’s MUCH better security footage than I’ve ever seen. Now, if it was “girl walks in, stops dead as the clerk tells her to leave, then runs out with her hands over her face”…..yeah, that I’d believe. Sorry, but when I was 14, I wasn’t (and my larger friends weren’t) emotionally mature or stable enough to handle a comment like that well enough to just take it, then walk on like nothing happened. It would have, at best, caused me to give the clerk the finger and walk right out. At worst, the clerk would have been eating a display piece. Not saying violence is the answer, of course, but come on – can ANYONE think of a 14 year old who wouldn’t have something to say to that?

    1. Nikki says:

      Well, other than the fact that teenagers have diverse personalities and levels of comfort with confrontation, if someone said that to me when I was 14, I would have been mortified, and likely just walked away. I wouldn’t have caused a scene, and I probably would have said nothing. Depending on personality type, life experience, and I don’t know how many other variables, reactions differ from person to person, and teenagers are not exempt from this. I don’t see the security footage being much use unless it has sound, though. It’s the girl’s word against the clerk’s, and unless they can find audio recordings or more witnesses there’s no real proof that it happened.

  20. Mac says:

    Even if it did happen, I can understand why. If no clothes in the store would fit the customer, the clerk probably thought she was loitering as she couldn’t possibly be a customer. But then again, she could have been shopping for someone else. Poor behavior by the clerk, but not a news story…they’re just trying to get some $$$ out of them.

  21. Lisa says:

    Wow. How horrible. As if being fourteen isn’t difficult enough in its own right.

    When I was about 16 or so (very early 90’s), I was told to leave a 5.7.9. store at the mall. I had no idea that the name of the store indicated the clothing sizes they sold! Some four-and-a-half foot tall prom queen explained to me that they ‘totally didn’t sell anything that would fit’, and questioned whether or not I would even fit in their dressing room. Awesome. Very ego-building. I was 5’9, and wore a size 12. Seriously.

  22. Me says:

    You have to feel sorry for the ignorant sales people that behave that way. What a shallow and unhappy way to go about life. Karma will wield it’s way and they will some day feel the other side of the coin… just a reminder to be very thankful to not feel that unhappy, insecure, and/or threatened by someone else’s differences

  23. Troy says:

    While this is outrageous and certainly upsetting for the girl, this is not some national news story. Some ignorant, uncouth idiot got a job as a clerk, and she said something totally inappropriate and insulted a girl. YES, the girl and her mother were right to be offended and to confront it–and YES, the company needs to take immediate action against the clerk. But a national news story…over THIS? I think we’ve got bigger issues to worry about (pun obviously intended).

  24. Alison says:

    I totally believe this happened- people can be judgmental and cruel.

    My first thought, though, is this- having worked in retail for a very long time, you never know why someone is in your store. Many of these stores work on commission, so I wonder, why be rude to this girl? So you don’t carry her size- what if she’s not shopping for herself but for a friend or sister/cousin/etc?

    You have no idea why she’s there and you have no idea how much money she has or is willing to spend. If the amount that she spends affects your paycheck, then who cares how thin or fat she is? Sell her the merchandise and go about your day. Your paycheck is a little bit bigger and the client has the product that they want, and no one’s feelings have been hurt, no matter what you think about their waist line.

    These teenagers (and other folks, honestly) need to watch “Pretty Woman”. Judging someone by how they look will lose you that commission pretty fast and that moral high ground that you think you’re on doesn’t pay the rent. Treat everyone with respect, and how you would like to be treated. Help everyone who comes in to your store. If someone comes in who can’t wear the size of clothing that your store sells, let them know *if and when they ask*, but be polite and KIND about it. If you are compassionate and kind, they will leave with a positive feeling and will send others to your store who might be able to buy items there.

    If you make a living off the kindness of others, which honestly is retail sales, then you need to be kind. There are too many choices out there for you to be cruel. No one has to shop at your store, ladies. And if no one shops there, eventually you don’t get paid.

  25. Tabatha says:

    Call a man fat and nobody blinks an eye, call a woman fat and everyone loses their minds. DOUBLE STANDARDS.

  26. supersexygranny42 says:

    Rue21 employees are trained by untrained managers and some are just down right nasty and obnoxious. For one, they do not offer clothes larger than maybe a size 14 and then they are an extra small size 14. But rue21 is not the only store that does this, there are several companies that have rude employees just as well as rude managers. Most corporate owners do not even see one manager of the entire company after they have been hired until something like this happens. Then they will try to down play the problem that arises from their employees.

  27. Laurel says:

    Change the name of the store to RUDE 21…………..

  28. Victoria says:

    It’s not just your weight. Often it’s because of the way you’re dressed as well. Back when jeans with the holes were so popular, I made the mistake of wearing a pair into Macy’s to buy a bottle of Shalimar perfume which at the time was about $180.00 an ounce. The store clerk totally ignored me. I finally had to ask for the manager to get waited on and before I left, I made sure they both knew that I probably made three to four times their annual salary and that they shouldn’t judge people by the way they’re dressed. I now shop at Dillard’s.

    As far as the camera footage, they’re probably going to need someone who can read lips if the camera is focused on the clerk’s face. If not, they’re screwed.

  29. Molly says:

    I don’t believe this story about Forever 21. People go in there all the time shopping for a daughter or friend or relative, it can’t be assumed that one is shopping for themselves. The sales people are always nice and I’m over 60. If someone needed a plus size it’s being honest to say that the person wouldn’t fit in the clothes sold there.

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