At age 89, Evelyn Redic can recall life under Jim Crow-era laws, where Blacks were refused service in many public places. So when Redic was forced to urinate outdoors in mid-90 degree temperatures because a gas station employee refused to let her use the store’s restroom, her family said she was outraged.
During a church trip in Charlotte, N.C., last week, the church van Redic was riding in got a flat tire. While waiting for the tire to be fixed, Redic went to a nearby Shell/Circle K gas station to ask if she could use the restroom.
“The staffed attendant did not respond to her request as an off duty attendant refused to give her access to use the restroom,” Redic’s granddaughter, Katossa Glover, stated in
a Facebook post about the incident, which has gone viral.
“One of the passengers advised the off duty attendant that Ms. Redic was recently released from the hospital and really needed the use of the restroom. Her plea was ignored by the store employee.”
Glover said that with no other option her grandmother was forced to relieve herself “outside on the grass near the parking lot.”
“She says she was outraged,” Glover said to WBTV.
Glover said Redic told her, “I have never been so embarrassed.”
“People are tired of being mistreated,” Glover added, “and a woman who has been here since 1929, who has gone through that, will not experience that in 2018 without the community fighting.”
County Commissioner Vilma Leake, who represents the district where the gas station is located, went to the location on Thursday to talk with the manager. Leake spoke with a clerk.
“The first thing she said was ‘we can’t say anything,'” Leake told WBTV.
“She’s a human being and they are human,” she said. “That is out of the ordinary to say no to somebody that age.”
A Shell/Circle K gas station employee told The Huffington Post that “the bathroom is in an area where only employees are allowed and if the woman had fallen, ‘We would have been liable.'”
In a statement released to HuffPost, Circle K said that it was “sincerely sorry that [Redic’s] visit to our store caused her any inconvenience.” But it added, “Unfortunately, Ms. Redic was at one of our small kiosk stations that does not have a restroom accessible to the public.”
The company welcomed her to visit its other locations with “easily accessible public restrooms.”
Mecklenburg County officials say no code violations occurred. After Jan. 1, 2019, all new gas stations in North Carolina must have a restroom for customers to use, according to county officials.
But the family thinks under the circumstances, Redic should have been able to use the restroom instead of having to urinate in the grass.
“I feel like we need some type of public apology,” Glover said.