A YouTube star who has more than a million subscribers was criticized for filming a video at a Texas Walmart store where she pretended to be an executive and fired employees.
YouTuber Lauren Love runs a few channels on the video-sharing website. She runs her main channel, “Joel and Lauren TV,” with her partner Joel Ashley. The channel has more than 1.3 million subscribers.
The YouTuber posted a video on April 23 titled, “CEO Firing People Prank.” In a teaser for the video, Love was dressed in professional clothing and went to a Walmart in Richmond, Texas. She is seen approaching a few employees, identifying herself as the CEO and telling them they were fired.
“So, I’m going to be going up to Walmart employees and basically observing them and then I’m going to be, like, ‘You’re fired. Let me see your badge,’” she said in the video, according to Click 2 Houston.
The video has since been taken down, but the teaser is still available.
One of the employees who was pranked, Maria Leones, told Click 2 Houston she felt “so powerless” and thought about her husband who had surgery recently.“Really, I was really so crushed, I felt so little, I felt so powerless,” Leones, a Walmart employee for six years, told the media outlet. “At that very moment, I felt so little, because back home [in the Philippines] I had a very good reputation because I’m a professor.”
The media outlet reported Leones cried after Love “fired” her. The YouTuber dropped her bit and apologized for the stunt.
PRANK GONE WRONG: What do you think of this? A social media creator went to a Richmond @Walmart and told employees they were fired. One woman broke down because her husband's medical expenses depend on her job. Her emotional plea for these pranks to end @abc13houston at 455pm. pic.twitter.com/l1CKMF2kWM
— Nick Natario (@NickABC13) May 8, 2019
“I’m sorry, don’t cry. You’re OK. I’m sorry. You’re not fired. You’re doing a really good job,” Love told Leones.
A Walmart spokesperson told Fox News in a statement that the prank was “offensive” and that the company has asked YouTube to take down the content.
“This prank is offensive and the people responsible are no longer welcome in our stores,” Walmart said in a statement to Click 2 Houston. “We’ve taken actions on behalf of our associates, including asking YouTube to remove the video and calling their attention to the bullying nature of this hoax. Our associates work hard every day to serve our customers. They do a fantastic job, deserve better than being subjected to such disrespect, and will continue to have our full support.”
Love told KTRK she felt bad that Leones cried. She claimed she gave Leones $50. Leones said she did not want or receive the money.
CBS News reported Love’s latest Instagram post was filled with comments calling her prank insensitive. As of Saturday, comments were disabled on the post.