All Articles Tagged "lawsuits"
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.
Public Enforcement Patrol officers who filed a discrimination suit in 2011 are finally getting justice as Battery Park City will pay them thousands of dollars — $165,000 to be exact — to settle their case.
In 2011, the 13 minority officers were transferred from their post and replaced by lighter-skinned officials. That’s a big enough problem, but just as significant are the racist slurs that the officers said were directed at them by some of the privileged Battery Park City residents and themselves. Swastikas and the N-word littered public property, leading the workers to believe that the graffiti was directed to their attention. This prompted the workers’ lawsuit. Each worker (both the originally employed and replacement workers) will receive $8,000, although one worker, George Parker, will receive $14,000 due to claims that a white resident chased him after being asked why his dog was off the leash. It appears that the Battery City Park Authority, employers of the PEP officers, did not step in to alleviate the problem, but rather masked it in hiring new workers.
The disrespected and discriminated get paid, but the problem still remains. You can’t erase racism and ignorance with a check. What will happen next? Even the lawyer who represented the disgraced PEP workers, Linda Cronin, believes this to be true, stating that “the settlement didn’t address the ‘blatant disrespect.’”
“The lawsuit alleged that the outrageous and despicable comments made towards the minority officers (and) the hostile work environment … have gone unchecked,” says Cronin in the NY Daily News article.
Not Safe For Lunch: Mother Of Toddler Who Found A Used Condom In A Play Area At McDonald’s…And Ingested It…Sues
Seriously though? Are people just having sex wherever they can nowadays? Because there’s no reason a used condom should be in the play area at a McDonald’s, let alone in the restaurant at all. But it was in early February, when Anishi Spencer took her sons, three-year-old Jonathan and two-year-old Jacquel Hines, to the fast food chain in the Gage Park neighborhood and found the dirty “barrier device” on the ground near the play area, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
The youngest child, Jacquel, later came to his mother, coughing up a piece of the condom that he had tried to eat, and fearing what else he might have taken in his system, Spencer took her sons to the hospital for treatment. Though the children didn’t end up sick or have any serious side effects from messing with the condom, Spencer was beyond disgusted and was irate with the neighborhood McDonald’s for allegedly even having a condom in their restaurant. Therefore, she has filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s Corp. and McDonald’s of Illinois, accusing them of not doing a good job of cleaning up “hazardous debris from an area used by children.” She also says they should have done a better job surveillance-wise to make sure sexual activity wasn’t taking place in or around the establishment…seeing as it’s an eatery and not a brothel. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the lawsuit is claiming negligence on the part of the restaurant chain and Spencer wants $50,000 to help pay for the children’s medical treatment and clearly for some other stuff…
All in all, if the story is true, that’s the one of the most disgusting things I think I’ve ever heard. But I can believe that a condom could pop up somewhere in an establishment like McDonald’s. Just walking to the train in NYC every day they’re damn near everywhere if you go down the wrong street. However, I also wonder why she wouldn’t be watching this whole, child finds condom on floor, child picks up condom on floor, child puts condom in mouth scenario? I know parents can’t see and do everything all the time, but still, those are some very young kids so eyes need to be on them as much as possible, and if they were, maybe something as gross as this wouldn’t have happened. But once again, condom and McDonald’s shouldn’t even be in the same sentence…Whatever happened, I think we can agree that this story’s gross level is on a maximum high.
Do you think Ms. Spencer will actually win?
Lil Kim is sick and tired of people taking advantage of her and trying to make fun of her. In fact, she’s not taking it anymore.
On Friday, Kim filed a $1 million lawsuit against her former lawyer and his business partner over shady business practices, that according to the NY Daily News.
In the suit filed in New York, Kim claims that Sunny Barkats convinced her to sign into contracts that gave Barkats and his partner, Andrew Ro, a 44 percent stake in a company that would license her brand names (likely “Lil Kim,” “Queen Bee” and others).
While it hasn’t been released about when she signed into this deal, Kim said she figured out something was wrong in December 2012; however, Barkats wouldn’t let her out of the deal. For his part, Barkats said the lawsuit is frivolous and just a way for Kim to get out of the contracts.
In other Kim news… the 38 year old rapper let loose on the paparazzi and bloggers whom she claims are trying to ruin her image by photoshopping images of her.
On Wednesday, Kim made an appearance on MTV’s RapFix Live with Sway to promote her new artist, Tiffany Foxx. Of course, the blogs got hold of pictures of Kim as she was coming and going and posted them with some “harsh” criticism of how she looks. Well, according to Kim, the pictures made her look lighter, bigger and just all around different…and she was steaming. Like, all celebs, Kim took to Twitter to air it all out:
I mean, okay, most of us actually have seen pictures of Kim that makes her look a lot worse than she actually does. But unfortunately, she’s the one whose made so many alterations to her face that people just feel the need to play around with her looks now. However, Kim has a right to be mad if she’s made to look terribly different.
Oh Kim, it’ll be okay girl.
In the last two days alone, we’ve written a story about multiple lawsuits against Disneyland over perceived discrimination committed by some of its theme park characters, and another from a set of New York City party-goers who felt they were the victims of racism at the hands of a bouncer demanding hundreds of dollars for a bottle of liquor in exchange for club entry.
No one is supporting discrimination, but are these lawsuits really furthering the cause of racial justice?
In these cases, the basis for the lawsuit is questionable. In one of the Disneyland cases, parents claim that their children didn’t receive the same treatment as other children because the characters didn’t hold the kids’ hands or hug and kiss them. Is it possible — just possible — that these characters are being overrun by kids and some will get a little more attention than others?
And in the case of the 230 Fifth partiers, the plaintiffs actually did pay the $320 for the vodka that they say the bouncer demanded to get in. If they sensed that white patrons were getting preferential treatment, why did they pay the money? Why would they want to continue to lounge in a place that, they say, made it plain, that they were unwanted guests?
Now this doesn’t mean that the plaintiffs weren’t wronged. The Black family paid to have the full Disneyland experience for their kids. That means lots o’ love from the characters. And Jermaine Sanders and his friends wanted to have a fun night out, especially after they paid hundreds of dollars to get into the club. Anything less than a fun and boozy night of good music and good atmosphere is going to feel like money wasted.
But in both of these cases, the problem sounds like a customer service issue, not systemic racism. The Disney characters who are unable to handle the throngs of children vying for their attention need to be working at the food counter or somewhere else entirely. And a surly bouncer needs to be bounced from the door for a new line of work. The managers in charge of these arms of the business need to pay closer attention to how patrons are being treated. And be sensitive to the fact that people from different walks of life are going to be paying customers with high expectations.
The US is the most litigious country on the planet. And in many cases, these lawsuits serve as pathways to justice. But in these cases, one has to wonder whether, once the details of the cases are hashed out, we don’t find that these plaintiffs just had a bad time one day and decided to sue. In that case, it’s setting the stage for actual cases of racism to get short shrift. Discriminatory acts are committed every day and high-profile lawsuits should be reserved for those instances where the outcome will positively move us further along the road to equality.
I was fired a few years ago as retaliation against complaints of unlawful discrimination that occurred at a company I previously worked for. That termination bruised my ego but eventually the saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” became one of the most important mottos of my life.
It all started when I accepted a position at a company that leased luxury rental properties. All of my co-workers and managers were white, obviously making me the only black person that worked there. On my very first day of work, one of my co-workers asked me if I tanned. When she immediately started laughing after she asked me her question, I assumed that she was attempting to humor me. I didn’t find her question funny and after she saw the serious expression on my face she didn’t either. But I let it go and we moved on.
A few days later the same co-worker received a call from a resident complaining about something that went awry in her townhome. When she got off the phone, my co-worker proceeded to tell me about the differences between black people and “crazy” black people. I was shocked and dismayed to hear another racially offensive comment by this same chick within my first few days of employment. Clearly she was going to be a problem.
Not long after that incident, the same co-worker started calling me “Shaquita.” When I told her that my name was not Shaquita, doesn’t sound like, rhyme with, or look like Shaquita, she told me to lighten up and said that I was being too sensitive. I didn’t realize that I applied for a position that came with an added bonus of having to deal with harassment with a side of racism.
As the days and weeks went by the derogatory terms became more pervasive. There is a predominately black neighborhood in my city called Trotwood. When potential residents listed Trotwood as the neighborhood they resided in, my co-worker would call the neighborhood “Trot-hood.” She would also call black male applicants from the area “Craig.” And when I asked her what she meant by the term Craig, she said “You know Craig from the movie Friday.” From what I remember of that movie, Craig played an unemployed man from the hood that lacked aspirations and hung around a weed dealer all day. Her disrespectful nicknames and unwarranted stereotypes went too far and it was time for me to take action.
Each time my co-worker made inappropriate comments I always corrected her in a professional manner. Maybe if I would have gone all “Gangsta Boo” on her then she wouldn’t have made so many racist cracks, but that’s not my way of doing things. My professional warnings went out the window as she continued to stereotype virtually every black person that went in and out of the office and did so as though it was funny. She told me to call black applicants and to use my “black” voice to relate to them. I asked her for clarity into what a “black voice” sounds like so she started mocking what she thought black women talk like. Trust me, it wasn’t flattering. When I told her that her comments and behaviors were racist and needed to stop, she had the nerve to say she was part Native American so she couldn’t possibly be racist. I guess I must have missed the memo that exempted racist behaviors from people who could claim a different ethnicity.
Since addressing my concerns with my co-worker fell on deaf ears, I decided to solicit management’s assistance in stopping her behavior. One manager never followed up with my issues, while another manager said she would say something to the co-worker so that her behavior would stop. Unfortunately, my co-worker’s antics continued.
I sent an e-mail to my co-workers and managers outlining the racist comments and attitudes that were occurring at the company. In the e-mail I suggested diversity training as a potential solution to what was then an ongoing issue. I told my manager that I sent her an e-mail and that I wanted her to read it. She read it, asked me to come into her office, and decided to fire me five minutes later.
That experience would have left me humiliated and broken had I not known that my termination was illegal. My state’s Civil Rights Commission accepted my case, conducted an investigation, and informed me that the company was interested in offering me financial compensation for all of my pain and suffering. Their offer didn’t heal my wounds, but I won’t front, it did make a nice Band-Aid. I think so often many of us sit around and accept egregious behavior because we don’t want to look like we’re not a team player at work, or because we’re afraid of what can happen. But at some point, it’s hard to look yourself in the mirror knowing you allow people to disrespect you and your people on a daily basis because they think it’s harmless and funny. Newsflash: It’s not funny and it’s definitely not right to stand by and let people think that such behavior is acceptable. You don’t have to argue with these people, you don’t have to act a fool. You can go directly to management or just lay down the law to your co-worker in a calm and respectful manner, but however you choose to act, don’t do nothing.
Hey loves! Hope you’ve been having a GREAT weekend! I think the celebs are having a great weekend because they’ve been as quiet as church mice this weekend. But you know I found a lil sumthin’ sumthin’ for you guys!
(AJC) — A Buckhead tavern’s practice of asking men to give up seats at the bar for women brought accusations of demands for discrimination from both sides in a federal civil-rights lawsuit Monday. Former NBA All-Star player Joe Barry Carroll and attorney Joseph Shaw contend that they were asked to give up their seats and eventually kicked out of the Tavern at Phipps because they were black; David Long-Daniels, the attorney for the restaurant, said in actuality the two men were demanding discrimination in their favor. Long-Daniels said when the men were asked to relinquish their seats they declined, and evoked Carroll’s former NBA status and Shaw’s profession. When told of the restaurant’s long-time practice of currying favor with female patrons by having men give up their bar stools for standing women, the men repeatedly refused, implying that other patrons should forfeit their seats, the lawyer said.
(American Statesman) — A group of plaintiffs made up largely of Latinos and African-Americans is accusing Texas Republican lawmakers of racial discrimination in their effort to secure GOP political power at a time when the state is experiencing significant growth among minorities. In a case set to begin today , lawyers for minority groups will argue that lawmakers in the Republican-dominated Legislature drew new district boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives and the Texas House that would dilute the representation of Texas’ Latinos and African Americans, keeping the racial and ethnic groups’ often Democratic voices muted. ”They did it on the backs of the Latino community,” said Jose Garza, a lawyer for the Mexican American Legislative Caucus. The Legislature must go through the process of redistricting — and redrawing boundaries for Congress, the state House, state Senate and State Board of Education — once every 10 years after the collection of census data. But historically, the redistricting cases always end up in court.
Good thing he has the money (we think). Prince has been ordered to cough up $3.95 million to Revelations Perfume and Cosmetics Inc. for hobbling its efforts to market a perfume after it had already liscened Prince’s name and and likeness and the album title “3121″ in 2006. The perfume launched in 2007 but Prince did not cooperate with the agreed-upon business deal and broke promises to help with promotions, said the company. Obviously, Prince’s litigation team are appealing the verdict.