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Race Discrimination: Retailer Pays Millions After Deciding Blacks Don’t Have “The Look” To Sell Its Merchandise

On Behalf of | Aug 29, 2013 | Race Discrimination |

Fashion retailer Wet Seal has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit. The suit accused the retailer of firing black employeesand attempting to improve profits by making sure the workers seen by customers were European-looking with blond-hair and blue-eyes. Managers were instructed to make race-based employment decisions, according to the lawsuit. A three-year investigation revealed widespread discrimination against any employee who did not fit a “Barbie and Ken” stereotype. Even without mentioning race, the requirement to have employees with blond hair and blue eyes clearly has a disparate impact on Black employees and potential employees. This would be enough to have a really good race discrimination case.

But, it does not stop there. According to the lawsuit, one high-level executive sent an email to subordinates complaining about the dominance of African-American workers in stores, calling it a “huge issue.” The huge issue is that this is a clear and unequivocal case of being racist. The huge issue is that race discrimination is not only acceptable at such a large company, but that it is discussed and planned.

At least $5.58 million of the settlement amount will go to a fund from which African-American current and former Wet Seal employees can recover damages.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, including racial harassment. The Act also prohibits employer retaliation against employees who complain about discrimination or assist with the investigation of such complaints. Employers who chose to discriminate against employees or job applicants because of their race can and will be held responsible for their actions. When discrimination finally comes to light, as seen here, it could easily cost a company millions.

If you feel that you are being discriminated based on your race, whatever race that may be, then call the right attorney. Race discrimination includes being harassed, fired, wrongfully terminated, discriminated against, demoted, wrongfully disciplined, and denied wages. When you call the right attorney to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 866-797-6040, you will meet with an attorney from Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm who will help you determine the best way to pursue your legal claims.


The materials available at this employment law website are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Your best option is to contact an Ohio attorney to obtain advice with respect to race discrimination questions or any particular employment law issue. Use and access to this employment law website or any of the links contained within the site do not create an attorney-client relationship. The legal opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual lawyer and may not reflect the opinions of Spitz, The Employee’s Law Firm or any individual attorney.

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