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Wet Seal, women, settle race discrimination lawsuit

Worker’s rights laws have been in place in New York and at the federal level for years, aimed at eliminating discriminatory practices in the workplace. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against workers in a wide variety of areas, including discrimination based upon race.

Despite the existence of such laws, workplace discrimination continues to rear its ugly head from time to time. Thankfully, worker’s civil rights protections allow aggrieved workers to attempt to seek relief from discriminatory practices through legal avenues.

A class-action employment discrimination lawsuit filed against national retailer Wet Seal has settled for several million dollars and other relief. Three women filed the race discrimination lawsuit last year.

One of the women says that she was a manager at a Pennsylvania location in 2009 when company executives toured through the store. She says that she overheard an executive vice president mention to a district manager that the manager of the store did not fit.

The manager, an African-American woman says that she was fired the next day. She and others sought a racial discrimination claim against the trendy retailer. The manager says that when brass visited her Pennsylvania location, the executive vice president wished to see managers with “blond hair and blue eyes,” according to The Grio. The exec’s desire for a blued eyed and blond haired manager effectively excluded the black woman from the exec’s expectations, according to the lawsuit.

The former retail manager and other women brought a complaint alleging racial discrimination. The former manager says that she was told bluntly that she was terminated because of her race, according to The Grio. The women bringing the race discrimination lawsuit say that a company executive wrote in an email at one point that the company needs to have diversity in the workforce. But, that email reportedly suggested that the executive believed that too many blacks were employed, creating a “huge issue,” according to the news account.

The company has settled the lawsuit for several million dollars. In addition to the damages, the current company management has agreed to put initiatives in place to ensure true diversity without discriminatory practices. The new CEO of the retailer says that, “We are pleased to put this matter behind us as we continue to be committed to nondiscriminatory employment practices that create a welcome environment for people of all backgrounds,” according to Clutch Magazine.

Source: The Grio, “Wet Seal to settle Pennsylvania race discrimination suit for $7.5 million,” Yesha Callahan, May 13, 2013; Clutch Magazine, “Wet Seal To Pay $7.5M In Philly-Area Discrimination Case,” Yesha Callahan, May 13, 2013

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