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A Montana State University professor is suing the world’s largest retailer for libel after, he says, an employee at the Bozeman store listed the occupation on the professor’s fishing license as a toilet cleaner.

Gilbert Kalonde, assistant professor of technology education at MSU, filed the suit Thursday in Gallatin County District Court. He is being represented by Jim Taylor, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana.

According to the complaint:

In April 2015, Kalonde went to Wal-Mart to buy a Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks fishing license.

As part of the process to receive a fishing license, Kalonde had to provide his occupation. He said he told the Wal-Mart employee that he worked for MSU and gave him identification that showed he worked for the university.

But instead of putting Kalonde’s correct occupation on the license, the Wal-Mart employee entered “clean toilets” into the FWP database as Kalonde’s occupation.

The suit claims the move was done to expose Kalonde to “hatred, contempt, ridicule or obloquy.”

On Feb. 24, 2016, Kalonde renewed his fishing license at Wal-Mart. He said he told the employee that he worked for MSU, but “clean toilets” was left as Kalonde’s occupation on his license.

Kalonde said that later during a lunch break at the university, he showed his teaching assistant his license while some of his other students were around. The teaching assistant saw Kalonde’s listed occupation and asked if he had changed jobs.

Kalonde says he was “very shocked and embarrassed” by the incident.

“In (Kalonde’s) home country of Zambia, the people that do this work are the lowest social class, and are shunned and avoided by society,” the suit said.

Two days after getting his license renewed, Kalonde returned to Wal-Mart and asked for a corrected license and a written apology. An apology was never provided, he said.

Wal-Mart has a legal responsibility to properly train and monitor the actions of its employees, the suit argues.

Kalonde is seeking unspecified damages.

Wal-Mart did not respond to a request for comment.

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Whitney Bermes can be reached at or 582-2648. Follow her on Twitter at @wabermes.


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