YouTubers face backlash after "pranking" Walmart employees by pretending to fire them

By Sophie Lewis

/ CBS News

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.

Trending News

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."

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

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.

First published on May 10, 2019 / 9:49 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

YouTubers face backlash for Walmart "prank" "firing" employees

"How is it that you have this huge platform, yet you use it to humiliate people publicly?"

11M ago

Parents indicted in boy's death amid scrutiny of state DCFS

Police found Andrew "AJ" Freund's body wrapped in plastic in a shallow grave after his parents reported him missing

40M ago

Barges and oil tanker collide in Houston Ship Channel

An estimated 25,000 tons of gasoline stock were on each barge and an unknown amount had been released, the Coast Guard sai

updated 3M ago

A 4-year-old made a promise to his sister after she died. He kept it for 13 years.

Alex Kunda turned down a trip to Disney World to get perfect attendance

3H ago

Pentagon to reallocate $1.5 billion for border fencing

The funds will be spent on four fence replacement four projects in two states. Along with $1 billion the department announced in April, spending on border barriers adds up to $2.5 billion

3H ago

Pentagon to reallocate $1.5 billion for border fencing

The funds will be spent on four fence replacement four projects in two states. Along with $1 billion the department announced in April, spending on border barriers adds up to $2.5 billion

3H ago

Senators request documents related to Christopher Steele

Republicans have expressed concern about Steele's role in the origin of the Russia investigation

3H ago

Democratic lawmaker subpoenas Mnuchin for Trump tax returns

Mnuchin has refused the committee's request for six years of President Trump's tax returns

5H ago

Trump celebrates nation's military mothers at White House — live stream

The White House is also continuing its annual tradition of honoring military spouses

5H ago

Could Pete Buttigieg make history in LGBTQ-friendly Nevada?

The openly gay South Bend mayor is headlining on Saturday a key gathering of LGBTQ leaders in an important early caucus state

5H ago

2 French troops killed freeing hostages in West Africa

The troops freed four people from the U.S., France and South Korea who were kidnapped in neighboring Benin

1H ago

An extinct bird species has evolved back into existence, study says

It's an example of iterative evolution — when the same ancestral lineage leads to repeated evolution of a species at different points in time

4H ago

Four kids in one New Zealand family all have royal names, including Archie

"It's a royal flush – what are the chances?" the kids' mother told a local paper

5H ago

Investors shrug off mounting U.S.-China trade tensions

Yet while stocks rebounded, Wall Street analysts say new tariffs could hit U.S. consumers and companies

5H ago

Dozens missing as migrant boat sinks in Mediterranean

While the number of migrants trying to make the perilous journey from war-torn Libya has fallen, people still try, and fail

11H ago

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West welcome fourth child

Kardashian didn't announce the baby's name, but she did reveal one detail about the way he looks

2H ago

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream in May

Apr 26 36 photos

Book excerpt: Howard Stern on how therapy changed him

In "Howard Stern Comes Again" the radio giant explains what it took for him to treat his guests as collaborators in an interview, rather than as foils for his on-air antics

7H ago

Met Gala 2019: Red carpet looks

See what all your favorite celebrities wore to fashion's biggest night

May 6 80 photos

What to stream this weekend

"TV Guide editor Krutika Mallikarjuna joins CBSN to talk about the best things to stream this weekend: ""State of the Union,"" Wine Country"" and ""The Society.""

9H ago 05:59

Wall Street to Uber: Is that all there is?

Disappointing debut for one of the most-anticipated IPOs in years — but not for investors in it for the long haul

4H ago

Most downloaded app on planet? Hint: It's not Facebook or Instagram

TikTok is wildly popular among kids everywhere, but data-privacy concerns in the U.S., U.K. and India are a challenge

5H ago

Uber IPO: The "dumb money" usually loses

If you didn't have access to IPO pricing, experts say it's best to wait when considering investing in a newly public stock

9H ago

How the dating app Bumble is making online dating safer

The dating app has grown to more than 55 million users in 150 countries since it was created in 2014

10H ago

Jeff Bezos says lunar lander can carry crews to the moon by 2024

Lunar lander unveiled as NASA puts finishing touches on plans to return astronauts to the moon by 2024

13H ago

An extinct bird species has evolved back into existence, study says

It's an example of iterative evolution — when the same ancestral lineage leads to repeated evolution of a species at different points in time

4H ago

Virgin Galactic announces new steps toward offering thrill rides to space

New Mexico officials have eagerly anticipated the arrival of space tourism by Virgin Galactic for more than a decade

6H ago

Jeff Bezos says lunar lander can carry crews to the moon by 2024

Lunar lander unveiled as NASA puts finishing touches on plans to return astronauts to the moon by 2024

13H ago

California bans pesticide blamed for harming children

Chlorpyrifos has already been banned in Hawaii and New York lawmakers recently sent a bill to the governor outlawing use of the pesticide

May 8

Study finds contaminated drinking water in 43 states

An environmental non-profit and university researchers found PFAS chemical exposure in the water in 43 states

May 7

New vaccine offers new hope for pancreatic cancer patients

When cancer develops in the pancreas, the diagnosis often comes after the cancer has already spread

1H ago

Can surprise medical bills be stopped?

Trump urging Congress to offer consumers relief from hospital sticker shock. How best to do that? There's much to debate

7H ago

Teacher who uses "mood notes" says she's seen an impact on grades

"They're believing in themselves," Erin Castillo said about her students

10H ago

Questions raised about the safety of generic drugs made overseas

A man's body rejected his new heart. Then his doctor looked into his anti-rejection drugs.

14H ago

Campaign raises awareness of "epidemic" killing moms

"An American mom today is 50 percent more likely to die in childbirth than her own mother was," a Harvard Medical School obstetrician said

21H ago

Wall Street to Uber: Is that all there is?

Disappointing debut for one of the most-anticipated IPOs in years — but not for investors in it for the long haul

4H ago

More millennials are living at home than at any other point this century

Experts blame the unaffordable housing market, rather than a failure by millennials to "adult"

5H ago

Most downloaded app on planet? Hint: It's not Facebook or Instagram

TikTok is wildly popular among kids everywhere, but data-privacy concerns in the U.S., U.K. and India are a challenge

5H ago

Virgin Galactic announces new steps toward offering thrill rides to space

New Mexico officials have eagerly anticipated the arrival of space tourism by Virgin Galactic for more than a decade

6H ago

How the China tariffs could affect consumers and businesses

Experts fear that ratcheting up the cost of importing Chinese goods will drive up prices and sap confidence

6H ago

Parents indicted in boy's death amid scrutiny of state DCFS

Police found Andrew "AJ" Freund's body wrapped in plastic in a shallow grave after his parents reported him missing

40M ago

2 French troops killed freeing hostages in West Africa

The troops freed four people from the U.S., France and South Korea who were kidnapped in neighboring Benin

1H ago

Mom arrested after kidnapping story unravels

Henderson County Sheriff Lowell Griffin said North Carolina mom Krista Madden threw her 7-week-old baby down a ravine and made up a kidnapping claim. Griffin said the child survived "by the grace of God." Madden was charged with attempted murder.

4H ago 01:01

Mom's story about a kidnapping unravels after baby found alive in ravine

A sheriff in North Carolina said the baby girl survived "by the grace of a merciful God"

4H ago

Hollywood murder mystery: Arrest made in TV director's 1985 killing

When asked whether he killed Barry Crane, Edwin Hiatt told WSOC: "Anything's possible back then–I was big into drugs"

8H ago

Virgin Galactic announces new steps toward offering thrill rides to space

New Mexico officials have eagerly anticipated the arrival of space tourism by Virgin Galactic for more than a decade

6H ago

SpaceX cargo ship reaches space station

SpaceX delivers 5,500 pounds of equipment and supplies to the space station

May 6

SpaceX launches unpiloted cargo ship to space station

The Dragon is loaded with nearly 5,500 pounds of equipment

May 4

SpaceX confirms crew spacecraft destroyed in test mishap

Crew Dragon spacecraft was being prepared for in-flight test of emergency abort system when something went terribly wrong

May 2

Blue Origin launches rocket with NASA payloads

Company founded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos aims to send private citizens and scientists into space

May 2

Britain's royal great-grandchildren

Prince Harry's new baby Archie is the eighth great-grandchild for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip

May 8 9 photos

Met Gala 2019: Red carpet looks

See what all your favorite celebrities wore to fashion's biggest night

May 6 80 photos

Dale Pike murder: Evidence photos in the case against Enrico Forti

In 1998, Dale Pike came to Miami to discuss a business deal with Enrico Forti — the next day he was dead, and Forti was the prime suspect

May 3 17 photos

Worst movie sequels since 2000, ranked

These are the lowest-rated sequels this century, according to Metacritic's rankings

Apr 30 51 photos

Private secrets shared via postcard

Since 2004, hundreds of thousands of anonymous contributors with something to get off their chest have sent postcards to the website PostSecret.com

Apr 28 32 photos

Popular

CBSN Originals Preview

In the newest installment of CBSN Originals, Adam Yamaguchi travels to West Virginia to investigate the how the growing market for renewable energy has impacted the states coal industry. CBSN Originals Supervising Producer Matt Morrison sat down to discuss "Clinging To Coal: West Virginia's Fight Over Green Jobs," which will air this weekend.

updated 47M ago 09:26

Former Defense Sec. Robert Gates on Trump admin's strategy on China

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke with "Face the Nation" moderator Margaret Brennan on the Trump administration's strategy on China.

2H ago 04:26

Jeff Glor signs off "CBS Evening News"

Jeff Glor anchored his final "CBS Evening News" broadcast on Friday. Watch his final remarks.

1H ago 02:14

Why a student vowed to never miss a day of school

A promise is a promise. Even when you’re just 4 years old. Why a student vowed to never miss a day of school. Here’s Steve Hartman, “On The Road.”

1H ago 02:26

Teacher with cancer forced to pay for substitute

A California teacher who's battling breast cancer isn't just facing mounting medical fees, she's also being forced to pay for her own replacement. Turns out, it's the law. Jamie Yuccas reports.

1H ago 01:31