All Articles Tagged "racial discrimination"

Bank of America To Pay $2.2 Million For Discrimination Against Black Job Seekers

September 24th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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A U.S. Department of Labor judge ordered Bank of America (BoA), located in Charlotte, N.C., to cough up almost $2.2 milllion in fines for discriminating against more than 1,100 African-American job seekers.

A formal complaint against BoA’s discriminatory tactics was filed back in 1997 after the Labor Department found “systemic hiring discrimination affecting black job seekers in the Charlotte location,” in 1993. It took nearly 20 years years for the courts to come to a conclusion on the case.

“Our investigators and attorneys prevailed despite decades of stalling tactics,” said labor solicitor M. Patricia Smith in a press statement.

Judge Linda Chapman has ordered the Charlotte-based bank to pay $2,181,593 back in restitution for 1,147 black job applicants. “The Department of Labor’s ruling awards $964,033 to 1,034 applicants who were rejected for jobs in 1993, and awards $1,217,560 to 113 applicants rejected between 2002 and 2005,” says USA Today.

Judge Chapman has also mandated that BoA extend suitable job positions to 10 former African-American applicants as the positions become available because of previous unfair and inconsistent criteria for choosing new hires. In the end, qualified candidates for jobs like tellers and entry-level clerical workers were turned away.

“We are currently reviewing this recommended decision and order,” said Christopher Feeney, a Bank of America spokesman. “At Bank of America, diversity and inclusion are part of our culture and core company values. We actively promote an environment where all employees have an opportunity to succeed.

This ruling comes nearly a month after Merrill Lynch’s $160 million settlement over hundreds of black brokers who claimed the bank was racially biased with their pay and promotions back in 2005.  BoA acquired Merrill Lynch in 2009; the settlement was one of the largest payouts in employment discrimination cases.

Merrill Lynch Reaches $160 Million Agreement With Black Financial Advisors

August 28th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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E. Stanley O'Neal in 2003. Mario Tama Getty Images News

Former Merrill Lynch CEO E. Stanley O’Neal in 2003. Mario Tama
Getty Images News

Merrill Lynch, a unit of Bank of America, has reached an agreement that will settle a lawsuit filed in 2005 for $160 million. The settlement, which a Merrill Lynch spokesperson wouldn’t confirm, according to The New York Times, would be available to all black brokers working for the firm since May 2001. The payout “would be the largest sum ever distributed to plaintiffs in a racial discrimination suit against an American employer,” reports the paper.

When the suit was filed, only one in 75 brokers was black. And, according to the lead plaintiff George McReynolds, those brokers got little help from managers and weren’t included as members of the team. These brokers were considered “poor producers” and the atmosphere continued that perception. McReynolds, 68, still works for Merrill Lynch out of Nashville.

“We are working toward a very positive resolution of a lawsuit filed in 2005 and enhancing opportunities for African-American financial advisers,” said a Merrill Lynch spokesperson, Bill Halldin, yesterday. Merrill Lynch was purchased by Bank of America in 2009 for $33 billion.

Among the evidence presented during the case was a deposition from Merrill’s one-time CEO E. Stanley O’Neal, the organization’s first black chief executive. He acknowledged that it could be a tougher environment for black brokers. The reason he cited, summed up by the Times, was “most of the firm’s prospective clients were white and might not trust their wealth to brokers who were not.”

At one point, about 1,200 names were listed on the lawsuit. McReynolds says it was difficult to get colleagues to sign on to the lawsuit, an issue exacerbated by the fact that 25 US states didn’t have any black brokers in them. The company had 14,000 brokers working  as of June 30. Bank of America, as a whole, has 257,158 workers. Merrill has, says the NY Times, been dominated by white men, with its brokerage team called the “Irish marines.”

The firm faced a discrimination suit in the 1970s that was supposed to lead to greater diversity but didn’t. In 1998, the company settled a sex discrimination lawsuit with 900 women.

This case was meant to go to court in January 2014, but Bank of America decided to settle. Separately but related, Merrill Lynch is the firm that intern Moritz Erhardt worked for before he collapsed and died after working three straight all-nighters. That happened in London, but it’s clear this company needs to do something about its corporate culture ASAP.

Minorities And Racial Discrimination In The Workplace: Are We Exaggerating?

May 29th, 2013 - By Kimberly Gedeon
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Shutterstock

Shutterstock

A study published by the Law & Society Review, essentially tells us what we all already know: Blacks and Hispanics are less likely than Caucasians to score interviews and job offers. Employers themselves have admitted that they’re reluctant to hire minorities. Tell us something we don’t know!

But there’s something new that this research presents to us: racial discrimination in the workplace is perceived among minorities differently depending on certain factors. Society has a devious way of indirectly imposing racial discrimination on minorities in the workplace. Modern discrimination is hidden in everyday social interactions which makes it harder to point out.

With the very subtle nature of racial discrimination, how can anyone effectively seek legal action? Employers can easily refute discrimination claims by stating that the worker’s performance and lack of experience contributed to differential treatment, masking any bias. Proof of racial discrimination to pursue a lawsuit is damn near impossible.

The report also delves into how one’s gender, personality, and income affect one’s perception of prejudice.

For instance, women alone in the workforce are paid less and are undervalued compared to men. Black women, being both a minority and female are at a double disadvantage. Because of this, black women are more vigilant of discrimination than black men. As a result, more African-American women are likely view negative treatment as a product of discrimination.

The authors infer that some workers might perceive a behavior to be discriminatory if they are entitled and believe they deserve certain treatment. If that standard of treatment isn’t met, they are more likely to cry discrimination. But is it really?

Also, those who are paid higher wages expect a more objective work environment; they are more likely to identify negative experiences as discriminatory. Adversely, those who work in undesirable jobs tend to label the negative experience as a just consequence of a crappy job.

The study concludes that the ideal, fair-minded work environment hires employees based on merit and uses public advertisements rather than personal referrals for recruitment and has affirmative action policies for equal opportunity.

Do you believe that African-Americans sometimes exaggerate their claims of racial discrimination? Have you ever been discriminated at work?

‘Love & Hip Hop’ Argument Spurs Discussion of Discrimination in the Workplace

February 6th, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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via Vh1

via Vh1

Those who tuned in to Love & Hip Hop this week may have caught an intense discussion between Jen Bayer and Raqi Thunda that culminated in a few statements that have led to backlash.

After getting the brush off from Raqi — “Have fun trying to get hot” — Raqi said, “I’m white honey. It will get done.” Both women continued, throwing around racially-charged language.

With that in mind, Black Enterprise takes a closer look at workplace discrimination and what you should do if you think you’re a victim of it.

“Experts recommend keeping a diary of events,” the article says. “Document any incidents of racism that happen to you in the workplace or that you witness.”

For more tips and advice on how to deal with this situation, click through to BlackEnterprise.com.

San Francisco Housing Authority Director Accused of Discrimination (BTW, He’s Black!)

December 3rd, 2012 - By Kimberly Maul
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AP Photo

In an interesting twist on discrimination lawsuits, a white attorney for the San Francisco Housing Authority is suing the agency and its executive director, Henry Alvarez, who is African-American, for discrimination and harassment.

Tim Larsen, the SFHA assistant general counsel, filed the complaint in San Francisco Superior Court on November 21 accusing Alvarez of repeatedly discriminating against white employees in favor of African-American employees. He also claims the executive director is a bully who uses offensive language and behavior in the office.

Larsen said he was repeatedly passed over for promotions and better assignments in favor of his African-American colleagues, decisions made by Alvarez. He cited several instances of language used by Alvarez where he demonstrated his favoritism for African-American employees.

The San Francisco Chronicle has more in-depth coverage of the lawsuit, looking into Alvarez’s background at the San Antonio Housing Authority where an employee also filed a complaint against him for an “inappropriate outburst.” The paper also spoke to several past employees of Alvarez, who echoed Larsen’s complaints about questionable behavior.

This position at the SFHA has also had its share of controversies, with previous executive directors leaving because of wrongdoings and inaction. The Chronicle reported that the SFHA operates 6,476 units of low-income housing at 45 housing projects throughout San Francisco, as well as runs the Section 8 voucher program.

Amos Brown, president of the Housing Authority Commission, calls the lawsuit “a joke,” asking “How can he be discriminated against?”
What do you think? Is it possible?

It’s Over: Court Explains Why “The Bachelor” Can’t Be Found Guilty Of Racial Discrimination

October 16th, 2012 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: ABC

About six months ago, we told you about the two black men who were filing a discrimination suit against ABC’s “The Bachelor,” citing that in the show’s 10 year history (Yes, it’s been 10 years!) there has never been one person of color vying for the affections of the opposite sex.

Well, today the U.S. District court put a stop to the lawsuit.

The court found that even if ABC’s hit show lacks diversity, it’s within their First Amendment right to cast whomever they see fit.

Judge Aleta Trauger noted that the show, in an attempt to appeal to their target audience, ABC may or not have discriminated based on race; but said the First Amendment protects their right to control their  own creative content.

“Thus, the court must assume, as alleged in the Amended Complaint, that the defendants did discriminate on the basis of race, that they did so to conform the content of their Shows to cater to the viewpoint of their target audience concerning interracial relationships, that the Shows’ content thereby perpetuates racial stereotypes about interracial relationships, and that the plaintiffs seek to alter/correct the defendants’ casting decision process to address that issue.

Regardless, as discussed herein, the First Amendment protects the defendants’ ability to control the content of their own programs unilaterally … because the defendants – not the plaintiffs – are entitled to control the casting of their own programs in the manner in which they see fit.”

So the two black men, Christopher Johnson and Nathaniel Claybrooks, may still take ABC to court, but the likelihood of them winning their case is highly unlikely after this ruling.

What interests me about this whole scenario is how “Civil Rights” type issues are being reflected in the casting of reality shows? To me, it just seems like there are other, more pressing social justice issues that have nothing to do with reality television. Furthermore, even if Johnson and Claybrooks won the law suit and ABC decided to cast one of them on the next season of “The Bachelor,” would it truly be satisfying knowing that the network only picked you because they were legally obligated to?

I guess to each his own.

What do you think about the ruling? Are you surprised by it or did you see this coming all along?

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Nooses and the “N-Word”: Company Paying Millions To Settle Discrimination Suit

August 30th, 2012 - By Tonya Garcia
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Image: iStockphoto

A Tampa-based environmental clean-up company, WRS Environment and Infrastructure (a.k.a. WRS Compass), has settled a racial discrimination case for $2.75 million with 11 employees. The suit was brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which alleged that the company subjected seven black employees in Lake Calumet, I.L. to repeated harassment in the form of hanging nooses, use of the “N-word,” poor work assignments and even physical threats. Two of the workers who complained were sacked.

The harassment went beyond African-Americans, with slurs (“n****r lover,” for instance) and threats of physical violence allegedly hurled at four white employees, according to Business Insurance.

In addition to the monetary settlement, the company must revise its anti-discrimination policies and train employees on the new rules.

A couple of other companies have recently become embroiled in discrimination lawsuits. Clothing retailer Wet Seal has been accused of firing black employees because they didn’t fit the company’s “brand image.” And the owner  perfume retailer Bond No. 9 has been accused of discriminatory practices. This link will take you to the EEOC page, which offers an overview of what racial discrimination is and how to file a complaint. This link discusses sex discrimination. And this one discusses pregnancy discrimination.

More on Madame Noire Business!

Former Employees Accuse Bank Of America Of Practicing Apartheid

July 23rd, 2012 - By madamenoire
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Source: mybanktracker.com

From BlackVoices.com

Two separate lawsuits alleging racial discrimination were filed in federal court in New York on Friday, against Bank of America and investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald.

Jack Mitchell, who is black and worked as a manager at Bank of America from February 2007 to July 2008, alleges the bank maintained an “apartheid” system of business allocation, believing white clients would not want to be served by African American employees.

Under this system, Mitchell alleges, employees such as himself were routinely assigned to branches in low-income black communities, negatively affecting his compensation. Mitchell claims he was fired in retaliation for complaining about “the bank’s racist practices.”

Bank of America spokesman Bill Halldin declined to comment on the suit but said that “diversity and inclusion are part of Bank of America’s culture and core values.”

Mitchell is seeking damages of not less than $10 million.

Read about the other racial discrimination lawsuit filed against Bank of America on BlackVoices.com.

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Black Superintendent Accused of Being Racist Toward Black Staff

March 21st, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: Bossip

It’s one thing to be discriminated against by someone of a different race, but it’s a shame when black people have to endure racism from one of their own. That’s the accusation nine black employees of the Tukwila School District in Washington have brought against their black superintendent, Ethelda Burke.

An attorney for the staff members, which range from vice principals, to teachers, and dispatchers, filed a complaint of racial discrimination against Ethelda, and even included anecdotes about her behavior. One group of female staffers at Showalter Middle School said the superintendent once referred to them as slaves.

“I couldn’t believe my ears she would refer to professional African American women as slaves,” teacher Sandra Goins, said.

Driver trainer and district dispatcher Doc Fells had his own story.

“She said to me you have to stop being a big, black man scaring our white drivers, and it numbed me.”

J.D. Hill, athletic director and head of transportation, also shared a disturbing nickname the superintendent gave him.

“When I walked into her office she said ‘Hey, J-Dark, how are you doing?’ J-Dark was my name for Ethelda, my pet name for a month, in a professional environment.”

Despite the glaring inappropriateness of the superintendent’s behavior, the staff members said they had a difficult time coming forward and filing their complaint.

“For me, I feel a sense of betrayal,” said Marva Harris, a school security officer who Ethelda called a slave. “That I’m betraying her, because she’s a black woman.”

Bus driver Ritchie Coleman feels the same.”If she wasn’t a person of color, me personally, I would have gone after her long before now,” he said.

Joan Mell, the attorney representing the employees, has written a letter asking the board to immediately suspend the superintendent. So far, the district, the superintendent, and the board have all declined to comment on the situation.

What do you think is the appropriate action for Ethelda Burke? Have you ever had a situation where another black person was racially discriminatory toward you?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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Clothes Make the Man. Do They Make the Race?

September 29th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(The Root) — Racial stereotypes — especially those that lurk in the subconscious — are so stubborn.  According to a new study, our very perception of whether a person is white or black can depend on the clothes he or she is wearing, the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail reports.  Volunteers participating in an experiment by a team from Tufts, Stanford and the University of California were asked to racially categorize computerized images of people with various skin tones and attire.

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