A grocery store employee has been suspended after they pepper-sprayed a customer who became confrontational after being asked to wear a mask and allegedly rammed the worker with a shopping cart.

The supermarket chain Ralphs confirmed on Friday that the employee involved in the July 15 altercation at a Los Angeles location has been suspended despite witnesses who said the worker was defending herself, CBS Los Angeles reported.

“The associate was suspended for five days for not following company guidelines on responding to customers not wearing a face covering and not following de-escalation procedures, which could have prevented the incident,” a company spokesman said.


Los Angeles County has made it a requirement to wear facial coverings while in public in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. Starting this week, Ralphs is also requiring customers to wear face coverings in all of its locations. 

The employee had informed the man that he had to wear a mask or leave. He allegedly refused and began to ram her with a shopping cart. The employee then pepper-sprayed the man and called the police.

"I was just coming down to the end of an aisle and all of a sudden I heard some commotion and people were getting in the aisle," a witness told CBS News. "I looked down there and there was this guy just yelling at someone, and then all of a sudden you see him, you know, take the handles of his cart and just try to ram this woman."

Cellphone footage taken immediately after the incident shows the man on the ground surrounded by milk, which helps relieve eye pain caused by pepper spray.

The man was later transported to a local area hospital by paramedics as a precaution, according to CBS, but it's unclear whether he will face charges.