It’s just affirmative action for Scandanavians
Three former managers at Wet Seal, a nationwide apparel retailer for young women, filed a federal race discrimination lawsuit on Thursday, asserting that the company had a high-level policy of firing and denying pay increases and promotions to African-American employees because they did not fit its “brand image.”
The lawsuit, filed in Federal District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., includes a copy of a March 2009 e-mail sent by the company’s then senior vice president for store operations to lower-level managers after she had inspected several stores. The email said, “African American dominate — huge issue.”
One plaintiff, Nicole Cogdell, the African-American former manager of a Wet Seal store in King of Prussia, Pa., said the company terminated her the day after that e-mail was sent. She said that she had heard the senior vice president, Barbara Bachman, tell a district manager that she wanted someone with “blond hair and blue eyes.”
The lawsuit seeks back pay, and general and punitive damages. It also seeks class-action status on behalf of more than 250 current and former black managers at Wet Seal, which has more than 550 Wet Seal and Arden B stores across the nation and is based in Foothill Ranch, Calif.
Another plaintiff, Kai Hawkins, the African-American former manager of a store in Cherry Hill, N.J., said her district manager had told her to hire more white employees or face termination. In the lawsuit, Ms. Hawkins said that she had been offended by Ms. Bachman’s e-mail and that she saw many black employees being “terminated despite doing a good job and without any explanation.”
In a statement issued Thursday, Wet Seal said: “Wet Seal is an equal opportunity employer with a very diverse work force and customer base. We deny any and all allegations of race discrimination and will vigorously defend this matter.”
There is nothing wrong with wanting your company to increase in diversity whether you have a certain minority group or white people making up a dominant portion of your company’s staff. However, if the allegations are true, that does mean you go and fire people who are doing their job well so you can hire someone else with a different skin color.
Do you think Wet Seal and companies like it, discriminate to fit a certain type of image?