YouTubers face backlash for Walmart “prank” “firing” employees

A YouTube star with more than a million subscribers pretended to be a Walmart executive and walked around the store telling employees they were fired — all for a “prank” video. Lauren Love and her partner Joel Ashley have over 1.3 million subscribers on their joint channel, “Joel and Lauren TV.” They also have three other channels, which have a combined following of over 500,000. 

The couple is well-known for posting “prank” videos, including “CAUGHT CHEATING PRANK ON GIRLFRIEND” and “SURPRISING MY BOYFRIEND WITH FAKE GUCCI PRANK.” 

In April, they uploaded a video to their channel titled “CEO Firing People Prank IN THE HOOD (GONE WRONG),” in which Love goes to a local Walmart in Richmond, Texas. She pretends to be a Walmart executive, walking up to multiple store employees and pretending to fire them. 

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The full video has been taken down, but a teaser clip remains live on Lauren and Joel’s channel. 

CEO Firing People Prank IN THE HOOD (GONE WRONG) by Joel and Lauren Tv on YouTube

“I’m the CEO of this,” Love says as she tells an employee that they are not in the correct “area” of the store. “I’m gonna have to take your badge and your jacket from you, you’re fired.” The employee does as she says, slowly putting down a box and taking off the vest. 

“What our associates have experienced in this video is troubling and undeserved,” a Walmart spokesperson told CBS News Friday. “We take this incident seriously and have taken several actions in response, including reporting the video to YouTube, trespassing the woman in the video, and providing support to our associates. This behavior is unacceptable and we will continue to stand by our associates.”

According to Click2Houston, one of the women Love pretended to fire broke down in tears in the original video. “Really, I was really so crushed, I felt so little, I felt so powerless,” said Maria Leones, who has apparently worked at Walmart for six years. “At that very moment, I felt so little.” 

Love’s latest Instagram has hundreds of comments, many of which are calling her out for the video. 

“Your actions were disgusting,” one commenter wrote. “How is it that you have this huge platform, yet you use it to humiliate people publicly?”

“The Walmart prank was extremely insensitive,” another commenter wrote. “You should apologize.” 

Love and Ashley have not responded to CBS News’ request for comment. 

Firing “pranks” have become a popular YouTube trend, many of which rack up millions of views across a slew of different channels. YouTube has not responded to CBS News’ request for comment. 

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