Thursday, September 22, 2011

EEOC lawsuit is a reminder that, yes, businesses can still discriminate

photo by Mykl Roventine, on Flickr Yesterday, I wrote about how far we’ve come since 1943. Today, I bring you another reminder of how far yet we have to go.

The EEOC has announced a lawsuit it filed against Bass Pro Outdoor World, LLC, for failing to hire African-American and Hispanic applicants for positions in its nationwide retail stores. According to the EEOC:

Bass Pro has been discriminating in its hiring since at least November 2005. The EEOC’s suit alleges that qualified African-Americans and Hispanics were routinely denied retail positions such as cashier, sales associate, team leader, supervisor, manager and other positions at many Bass Pro stores nationwide.

The lawsuit alleges that managers at Bass Pro stores in the Houston area, in Louisiana, and elsewhere made overtly racially derogatory remarks acknowledging the discriminatory practices, including that hiring black candidates did not fit the corporate profile….

The lawsuit also claims that Bass Pro unlawfully destroyed or failed to keep records and documents related to employment applications and internal discrimination complaints. Bass Pro punished employees who opposed the company’s unlawful practices, in some instances firing them or forcing them to resign.

A lawsuit is merely a set of yet-to-be-proven allegations. And, as we’ve seen recently, the EEOC can overreach from time to time. Regardless of how much truth is behind these allegations, this lawsuit serves as an excellent reminder that overt racism can still exist, and employers need to be diligent about combating discrimination of all kinds.