All Articles Tagged "discrimination"
Was this anti-breast cancer hat (pictured above) too obscene for the mall or are these women guilty of shopping while black?
That is the question I have after reading about the story of Makia Underwood, 32, Zakia Clark, 29, and Tasha Clark, 27, who have been wearing fitted hats and shirts, with “F- CANCER,” appliqued on the front. The North Philadelphia-based siblings had been wearing the brazen anti-cancer sentiment gear in honor of their mother, who had recently passed away after a long fight with breast cancer. To help drive home the point, the letter “c” in the F-word, had been replaced by the traditional breast cancer awareness pink ribbon.
It’s a sentiment that many can get behind: I mean, nobody likes cancer. However the security guard, who approached the siblings in the food court of the King of Prussia Mall, located about 20 minutes outside of Philadelphia, wasn’t in the Susan B. Komen spirit
According to the Philadelphia Daily News:
“The ladies had just sat down when a security guard approached them and, without a greeting, ordered: ” ‘Take your hats off,’ ” Zakia said. Zakia took hers off, but Tasha, who once worked at the mall, told the guard she wanted to see something in writing. It was almost as if Tasha were channeling their mother’s strong spirit, Zakia said, and it inspired her to put her own hat back on. “He said, ‘Since you don’t want to take your hat off, you can leave my mall,’ ” Zakia recalled. “He stood there while we ate and threatened to call the cops.” Out of nowhere, Zakia said, seven more guards surrounded them. “I was very embarrassed,” she said. “My daughter was so scared she was crying.”As the group was escorted to the mall office, Makia called and met up with them. Once they got to the office, the women were met by an Upper Merion Township police officer, who had been called to the mall by security guards. The officer said, ‘I find it offensive that you even have that hat that says ‘F— CANCER,’ ” Zakia said. “He said, ‘It’s their mall, they want you out, you have to get out.” The women were escorted out, and two security cars were waiting for them at their car just to make sure they left, Zakia said.
Initially KOP mall managers, Simon Property Group based in Indianapolis, stood behind the security guard’s actions, citing the mall as a family destination, however according to the Daily News, KOP mall managers has since reached out to the Clarks and apologized for the security guards lack of discernment with company policy about decency, stating, “Certainly this could have been handled in a much more empathic and sensitive manner. We’re very sorry about her loss and wanted to apologize for the way her party was treated. I do think this is an entirely different situation than a 16-year-old kid with a swear word on his T-shirt cruising the mall. We need to be empathic, sympathetic and listen and make sure that we’re approaching each situation as it comes up.”
Certainly there is something profane about the F-word and I can see how some parents might wonder if this is an appropriate message in a public space where children might “Fawk” – even with the breast cancer ribbon. However I would think Cancer would be more offensive. And this particular context, the C-word might matter much more than the less deadlier curse word in question. At the very least, this security guard was in his Paul Blart: Mall Cop-bag.
However being from the great state of Pennsylvania, which has been satirized by some locals as ‘Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Kentucky in between,’ it is very well understood the risk one takes when shopping outside of the city limits, especially when you are black. Based upon the public perception that all blacks steal – or are out to disturb the peace of the good white folks shopping experience – black folks routinely find themselves profiled, treated rudely and harassed during shopping experiences, so much so that the act has an official term: “Shopping While Black.” Most times it is a minor inconvenience for us folks, however and on occasion this subtle form of racism can result in incidences like what had happened to the Clark family.
Another bit of irony is that in this same mall, you can shop in an Abercrombie & Fitch, which recently has come under fire for some discriminating statements about their preferred customers; or window browse at an American Apparel, who most recently sparked outrage in Sweden for its highly sexualized images of half-unclothed woman in its advertising; or even likely to find a French Connection UK (also known as FCUK) t-shirt in one of the outlet department stores. If anything, there is some selective reasoning of what is considered appropriate in public spaces. But maybe that is all part of the new slave mentality that Kanye West was talking about.
Actually, this time it’s Abercrombie’s company Hollister that’s stepped in it. A federal judge has ruled that the company violates the Americans With Disabilities Act with its porch front stores and blocked ramps.
“A company spokesman said that the raised entrances were designed to create ‘an entry to a house in Southern California that you would walk up onto the porch or walk down into the porch, to enter, like you would do at a beach house,’” reports The Daily Mail.
Julie Farrar, who is in a wheelchair, tried to enter a Hollister store in Colorado. There are stairs out front, but the retailer says there are ramps off to the side. Unfortunately, the doors that those ramps lead to are blocked by tables inside the store. And, Farrar says, going through a side door isn’t fair. (Indeed.) “She said that in school using a wheelchair meant she was effectively segregated from other students. She remembers her family being asked to leave restaurants, movie theaters and shops because she ‘was considered a fire and safety hazard,’” quotes Jezebel.
The case ultimately goes back to 2009 when both Hollister and Abercrombie were sued by several people for violation of the Act. Since then, the only store remaining from the original suit was one in Colorado (others in the state have since increased wheelchair accessibility). Then it turned into a class action suit in 2012 against 248 Hollister stores in the US. The company was ordered to bring the stores up to compliance and, in three months, hadn’t.
The message we get from these repeated stories of discrimination and bad policy: Abercrombie and Hollister just don’t see anything wrong with being jerks.
In the past week we’ve seen and heard some of the most questionable things from CEOs — from Abercrombie & Fitch’s Mike Jeffries to Amy and Samy Bouzaglo of Amy’s Baking Company on Kitchen Nightmares. If you’ve wondered how people with clear disregard for proper customer service or continued practice in discrimination are still able to hold executive positions in this world, I don’t have all the answers for you. However I do have ten gems of wisdom if you decide to run your own business or another’s company one day. Read on!
Clothing store Abercrombie & Fitch has been the subject of salacious news headlines in the past. Now the retailer is caught in a maelstrom of gossip again as one of its brand managers made it known that their clothes are not made to be worn by just anyone. “Abercrombie & Fitch doesn’t want to create the image that just anybody, poor people, can wear their clothing. Only people of a certain stature are able to purchase and wear the company name”, the manager stated.
In response to the controversy, company CEO Greg Karber released a statement, available on Clutch:
“I sincerely regret that my choice of words was interpreted in a manner that has caused offence. A&F is an aspirational brand that, like most specialty apparel brands, targets its marketing at a particular segment of customers. However, we care about the broader communities in which we operate and are strongly committed to diversity and inclusion. We hire good people who share these values. We are completely opposed to any discrimination, bullying, derogatory characterisations or other anti-social behaviour based on race, gender, body type or other individual characteristics.”
For some, the statement isn’t enough. Writer Greg Karber created a campaign called @FitchThe Homeles that declares “Let’s rebrand A&F together.” If you have any unwanted clothes from Abercrombie & Fitch, you can donate to this cause, which will then provide the clothes to the homeless.
Given this most recent dust up, comments Jeffries made in a 2006 interview for an article on Salon seem prescient. At the time he said, “A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”
Do you shop at A&F?
In the United States employment relationships are at will, meaning that an employer can terminate an employee for any reason (excluding an illegal one) or for no reason at all without any legal liability. The employee can also leave at any time for any reason without any legal penalties. This is unique to the US since other countries require employers to have cause to fire an employee.
This “at will” policy may sound very straight forward, like you can just easily fire someone at the drop of a hat at anytime. However, with our litigious society that is absolutely not the case. If the issues you are having with an employee prior to firing them are not well-documented, your business could be in for some big legal issues. Many employees that were fired for valid reasons may feel bitter and seek revenge through lawsuits accusing companies of discrimination, which is illegal.
Recently at Johnson and Johnson, ex-employee Sylvia Santos filed a complaint against the company claiming she was fired due to her age and disability. Although the company claims her termination was due to fraud, it seems there isn’t sufficient documentation to back up their claims. J&J’s petty reasoning might lead to a payday for Santos.
These types of lawsuits can lead to financial issues and bad publicity for a company. Here are some things to keep in mind as a manager or business owner to keep your company out of the courthouse and not make a bad situation worse:
Maintain Documentation: Just like in the case mentioned above you could be sued after firing an employee or even if you aren’t sued an ex-employee may try to make an unjustified claim for unemployment. If an employee was laid off or fired due to downsizing or from no fault of her own, she is rightly entitled to unemployment benefits. However in most states if the employee was fired for misconduct the company that initiated the termination is not responsible for paying unemployment benefits to the employee, but will have to maintain documentation to contest the claim if one is filed.
Work With Your HR Department: The HR department will have the latest and greatest information on termination laws for your state and the proper company procedures for handling the situation. As soon as you have an inkling that you may need to let an employee go, seek the advice of a knowledgeable HR representative at your organization. They should be able to hold your hand through the process and advise you on how to limit the liability of the company.
Be Empathetic: Firing someone can be a very awkward situation. Many senior leaders shy away from confronting an exiting employee and will even elect a lower level manager to do their dirty work. It is justifiably a difficult task, since you are taking someone’s job security right from underneath them. However, at the end of the day business is business, and you have to do what’s best for the company. But it’s imperative that the situation be handled with delicacy and compassion. No matter the cause for the termination, treating an employee with dignity and respect upon termination is always the best choice in hopes of an amicable separation.
Have Security On Deck: “Going postal” is not just reserved for mail carriers. If you’re not sure how an employee will take the news or if you know this person has a volatile personality, it’s better to be safe than sorry by not having security present. By having a guard there with you, you can deliver your message and the person can be safely and securely escorted out of building without any further confrontation and minimal disruption to other employees.
Termination is a touchy subject, but doesn’t have to turn into a horror story if handled properly. To reduce your exposure to termination situations, conduct extensive evaluations of your incoming employees on the front-end, which can lead to fewer terminations on the back-end. By doing this you can increase the chances of having employees that meet your origination’s needs and display the work ethic you are seeking.
When Looks Matter: Wet Seal, Abercrombie & Fitch And The Reality Of Appearance-Based Discrimination By Retailers
According to published reports, Wet Seal Inc., the chain-retail store headquartered in Foothill Ranch, Calif., will have to pay $7.5 million dollars to settle a racial-discrimination lawsuit, which had been filed by three black women, who accused the chain clothing store of terminating them because they did not fit the brand image.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, evidence in the lawsuit included e-mails and witness testimony from former Wet Seal managers, which “allegedly showed high-level Wet Seal executives instructing managers to fire African American employees, and “diversify” by hiring and promoting white employees “who fit the Wet Seal brand image.” The case was also bolstered by a ruling by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which determined that Wet Seal had racially discriminated against one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. However, the Inquirer reports that Wet Seal denies the allegations in the lawsuit and calls the settlement a “no-fault resolution of the case.”
The settlement may put to bed this particular racial discrimination case, but it also sheds light on a rarely discussed practiced form of appearance-based discrimination. This idea that it is okay to exclude individuals, whose physical characteristics do not fit the standard of a business or other organization, is the basis of all forms of discrimination including racial, gender-based, and sexual orientation-based discrimination. And while Wet Seal denies culpability in racial-discrimination practices, the idea that the retail chain might have been looking to promote and hire based on its physical image is equally as troubling. And if true, unfortunately, they would not be alone in the practice.
Just last week, Business Insider reported on Abercrombie & Fitch’s refusal to make clothing in sizes XL or XXL for women (nor does it carry women’s pants sizes larger than a 10), and according to retail analyst Robin Lewis, Mike Jeffries, CEO of the retail clothing chain, only wants “thin and beautiful” people shopping in his store. The Business Insider story also referenced a 2006 piece in Salon, in which Jeffries was quoted as saying the following:
“In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”
Jeffries’ business acumen of projecting and appealing to an “exclusive” clientele might be at the source of how the clothing chain store found itself dead smack at the center of two private class action lawsuits filed by nine former employees, who accused Abercrombie & Fitch of discrimination against Hispanics, Asians, African Americans, and women. According to published reports, the plaintiffs said that they were prohibited from working the sales floor because they did not fit the “Abercrombie look,” and instead were told to work in back storage rooms. The suit was settled in 2004 for $50 million dollars and a Consent Decree, which legally enjoined Abercrombie & Fitch to develop and implement internal policies and procedures, which guarded against discriminating against applicants based upon race, color and gender.
More and more, states and local municipalities are growing hip to the subtle ways in which discrimination operates, including Michigan, which became the first state to add weight and height to its anti-discrimination employment laws, and Washington D.C., which prohibits all forms of personal appearance discrimination. While wanting to project an exclusive image is not unusual in brand marketing, particularly the marketing of apparel, when a company sets its sights on appealing to such a niche market, it opens itself up to creating and perpetuating an environment where prejudice is acceptable. Nowadays, you don’t have to say blacks and Hispanics are not welcome – you can just decline employment, or even a customer base, from those with certain physical attributes, such as body shape, hairstyles, or who don’t look like the cool kids in high school – unless of course you went to a high school with black and Hispanic people in it.
An Open Letter To Jason Collins: I’m A 25-Year-Old Follower Of Jesus. I’m Black. And I Grew Up Wondering If I Was Gay
Earlier this week, NBA player Jason Collins came out as the first openly gay professional athlete playing in a major team sport. A couple of weeks prior, No. 1 WNBA draft pick Brittney Griner made an announcement regarding her homosexuality as well, following in the footsteps of former WNBA star Sheryl Swoopes. Beyond sports, there was Frank Ocean last year and now rumors are swirling about singer Janelle Monae (who denies being gay, but opposes traditional gender norms). Not to mention, there is the ongoing debate about gay marriage, gay rights, and tolerance. Last year, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis even released a song called “Same Love,” which was a personal call for equality for gay couples in light of the rapper’s childhood wonderings.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the gay community has cemented their place in culture. But of course they haven’t done so without a fair share of controversy. Yet, from where I stand, all I see are two caricatures presented by the media— a voice of tolerance and a voice of hate. A group simply wanting people to be happy, and the opposition wanting to deny them of that inalienable right, and doing so with absolutely no compassion. If you’re gay, be gay! Or God hates gays, so go to hell! Those are the only options society gives us.
Yet, what I don’t think is being given a voice is the side of those who love gay people (and any other group of people), believe in human rights, but also ascribe to a faith that has transformed their own thinking and being—all the way down to challenging their own sexuality. This became apparent when Chris Broussard made his comments regarding Collins’ announcement. Although I understand why ESPN viewers could be bothered by Broussard’s religious commentary, considering they watch ESPN for sports and not sermons, I think it’s unfortunate that he’s now experiencing media martyrdom. I began asking myself what I would have done if (for some reason) ESPN asked me for my opinion. I’m not sure what would have come out of my mouth that particular day, but I know I would have tried to communicate a message of truth and love. And if I could write a response, instead, here’s what I would say in my open letter to Jason Collins, Brittney Griner, and every person that wants to be who they were meant to be:
I’m a 25-year-old follower of Jesus. I’m black. And I grew up wondering if I was gay.
Growing up as a tomboy, I never played with Barbie dolls (except for that MC Hammer figure I was geeked about); I played outside with boys instead; wore boys’ clothes; played basketball most of my life, and didn’t really like doing any girlie things including liking boys. I can recall being in middle school trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I even remember how awkward it was for me to have a boyfriend (for like 2 months). Was I supposed to feel something when he hugged me? Or that time he gave me a peck on the lips? Well, I didn’t. And if not for my ponytail, I’m sure we looked like two dudes walking down the street. I began wondering was I gay. My teammates were tomboys too, so I figured maybe we just represented a different type of female—a hybrid of genders perhaps. But as time went on, some of those teammates and other girls I’d played basketball with were now openly pursuing girls. They were gay. What did that mean for me? Confusion. But I didn’t decide that I too was gay. Why not? If it was something I could have decided, does that mean I never was? Is it because I grew up in church and heard being gay was a sin, so I never fully considered it an option? Or did I decide that I would fight to be whom I believe God created me to be despite any of my own thoughts or dispositions? What about one of my best friends or other individuals who once embraced a homosexual lifestyle, but don’t anymore? Does that make it a choice?
Why A UK Man Suing A Gym For Reverse Sexism Because Of Women-Only Workout Sessions Is Complete “Rubbish”
Peter Lloyd, a journalist from the UK, is suing his gym for reverse sexism and writes in the UK Daily Mail about the situation:
“When I became a member of my local gym, it was to exercise my body – not my human rights. But that’s exactly what I’m doing with the Kentish Town Sports Centre in north London. The venue, owned by fitness company Better in association with Camden Council, attracts hundreds of people from all sections of society: religious, atheist, male, female, young and old. There is no dominant demographic. Everybody is welcome and everybody gets on. But not everybody is equal. Because, in an age of political over-correctness, they ban all men and boys for 442 hours every year – simply because they are male. Adding insult to injury, they still charge them the same full-price membership fee as women, but refuse to offer the equivalent option of male-only sessions. Not only is this an outrageous business model, but it’s also sexist. Especially given that council officials base it almost solely on women’s needs. Fair? I think not. But, because we live in an age of acceptable misandry, most people are too polite to say anything.”
Speaking of things that folks are too polite to say: The last time I was in a gym, a dude puts his balls in my face.
This happened in my late 20s, while I was going through this fitness phase. I used to hit the gym about an hour a day, get it in on the treadmill and do strength training with the weights. There used to be this guy that would be in there working out too. What time would he be there? Doesn’t matter. He was always there. This dude was in the gym like it was, seriously, his damn job. And that’s what I initially thought the first time he showed up in the woman’s section of the gym (a smaller room in the gym, which I’m sure was office space in its previous life). He gave me advice on how to use the weight machine correctly and then he left. Despite how helpful he was, I found out later that he didn’t work there. He was just a member like me. Nevertheless, I figured he was harmless enough. The most he had ever done was smile, wave and do the whole polite, “Hey, you’re back” type of conversation.
And then one day, I was in the main gym area using this hamstring machine, where you have to lay flat on your stomach and curl your legs back. My chin is rested on the mat and I’m staring down at the floor. In the middle of me trying to count off a second interval, I became distracted by two pairs of black sneakers. I liftted my head slightly from the mat and looked up. That’s when I got a face full of crotch. “Mmh, mmh, mmh, girl…” It was the gym rat. He was standing directly over me, shaking his head and ogling at my backside. “You know, you really don’t need to be in here working out. From what I see, you look good the way you are. I’m for real!” Gym-rat dude thought he was sending me a compliment, but all I remember is a semi-lewd comment and a man’s crotch in my face.
Shortly after, I stopped going to the gym – not because of this incident. I stopped working out because I got bored and then got lazy. But I will say that his presence did make my gym experience awkward from then on out. Now I’m all conscious of how I’m running on the treadmill, and if my double D breasts are jiggling too much. Lord knows, I’m not trying to get a rise out of him because then I would have to curse him out or something. And then you become, that girl.
The funny thing is that this is not the most awkward and inappropriate thing to happen to me, nor is it the craziest story I have ever heard. I know that there are women reading this, who have crazy tales of their own about the ways in which they have been approached by men in public – being it in the gym, supermarket, on the streets, at your grandmother’s funeral, etc… It can be pretty uncomfortable as many men are not as Rico Suave as they think they are. Some just come off as creepers. However, learned women know how to maneuver around these situations by doing a few things, including using headphones; gauging properly when it is and when it’s not safe to tell a dude no aggressively; and if needed, avoiding certain public places all together.
I agree with Lloyd that the “ladies’ night” promotion at the gym is a bit misguided. It does nothing to address the overall culture of the gym environment, which often condones inappropriate, lewd, or harassing behavior at times, particularly to women and girls. But to champion this cause as some sort of misandry is equally misguided, ignorant and quite frankly, dismissive of the very real and justified safety concerns, which are often a product of this culture. The charges of reverse sexism are just as hollow as the charges of reverse racism. As far as I am concerned, if men like Lloyd want to be compensated for the 442 hours they are “excluded” from the gym every year – or whatever else they claim reverse discrimination on – they can take their gym membership fees and version of “equality” out of the 23 cents on the dollar (in upwards of 21 percent in the UK) we ladies earned in wages in the workforce but have yet to receive.
Some Claim The Term “Master Bedroom” Is Sexist And Racist, Some In The Industry Are Dropping The Phrase
When you hear the term “master bedroom” are you offended? Well, for some it harks back to the horrific days of slavery. For others it smacks of sexism. Because of this many real estate agents are dropping the phrase when showing houses. And builders are no longer using the description. Instead some are calling their larger bedroom the “owner’s suite.”
According to Jezebel, a recent survey of 10 major builders in the Washington D.C. area found that when the word “master” immediately precedes the word “bedroom” is loaded with racist and gender-biased connotations.
The Baltimore Journal released a recent report that noted that “master bedroom” is falling out of favor with the next generation of home builders. The word “master has connotation problems, in gender (it skews toward male) and race (the slave-master),” writes the Journal’s Michael Neibauer.
The Journal polled home builders and all “expressed their desire to distance themselves from the troubling origins of ‘master bedroom,’ ” reports Jezebel.
But “owner’s suite” hasn’t become the norm—yet. “The terminology has more of an upscale tone to it, particularly in some of the really large homes that truly have a large bedroom, sitting area, enormous walk-in closets, and lavish bathrooms,” Brian Block, managing broker for McLean, Va.-based RE/Max Allegiance, said in an email to the Journal.
Do you agree, or do you think it is political correctness gone amok?
Sexism has a bright side? Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia seems to think so. He recently wrote an essay for New York magazine in which he not only talks about growing up in New York City but makes an odd—and offensive—remark about sexism. He says, reports Jezebel:
“It is amazing how many of the names of the kids in this class I remember. The teacher standing in the back-that was a lady named Consuela Goins, and she was a wonderful teacher. Every cloud has a silver lining, and one of the benefits of the exclusion of women from most professions was that we had wonderful teachers, especially the women who today would probably be CEOs.”
Okay, so we should be happy that women are left out of the corporate boardroom so they can make great teachers instead. It would seem that women—or men, for that matter—who strive for a career in education would be ideal. And a woman who wants to be a CEO of a major company would no doubt excel as well—if given the chance.
Ironically, his mother, Catherine Scalia (née Panaro), was as an elementary school teacher. We wonder if she dreamed of being in some other professional and— as Scalia ruminates about female teachers in his essay–settled for teaching.