Culturally Illiterate CVS Workers Deny Med To US Citizen

Jose Guzman Payano shows his Puerto Rico driver’s license, which says was rejected for a cold medicine purchase at a CVS store across the street from the Purdue University campus, where he is a junior engineering student. CVS officials say the company is looking into the incident and that IDs from Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory since 1898, are accepted in the pharmacy chain’s stores.

Nov. 3, 2019 |

CVS rejects student’s Puerto Rico ID, asks for his “immigration papers” 

Lafayette Journal & Courier – CVS officials say they are investigating a claim by a Purdue University engineering student who said he was denied the purchase of an over-the-counter cold medicine because employees at an Indiana store looked at his Puerto Rican driver’s license and told him he needed a valid U.S. ID, before pressing him about his immigration status.

The situation, which happened Oct. 25, turned into a viral social media moment when the mother of Purdue junior Jose Guzman Payano told the story in a post that had been shared more than 5,500 times by Saturday.

Arlene Payano Burgos’ point, writing from her home in Cayey, Puerto Rico: Her son “is, in fact, a United States citizen.” [Puerto Rico became a U.S. territory in 1898, two years before Hawaii. – Ed.]

Payano Burgos wrote in a Facebook post that was still gathering steam this weekend in West Lafayette and Purdue circles:

“What caused this employee to ask him for his visa? Was it his accent? Was it his skin color? Was it the Puerto Rican flag on the license? Whatever triggered her to discriminate against my son embodies exactly what is wrong in the United States of America today.”

Payano Burgos, reached Saturday at his dorm room in Shreve Hall, said he hadn’t heard from CVS after contacting corporate offices for the national pharmacy chain to find out if what he’d been told in the store – that his driver’s license from Puerto Rico didn’t fit the company’s policy of U.S., Canadian and Mexican IDs, only – was actually true.

But CVS did offer an apology, via a statement, when asked by the J&C.

Amy Thibault, a CVS spokeswoman, said:

“We are committed to ensuring that every customer receives courteous, outstanding service in our stores, and we apologize to the customer for his recent experience. We are fully investigating this matter to learn more about what occurred. While our employees must adhere to laws and regulations requiring identification for the purchase of over-the-counter medication, our expectation is that all customers be treated in a professional manner.” Read more.