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Bass Pro Shops: Racial Bias Suit Brought by EEOC

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on September 23, 2011 6:46 AM

Does outdoor sporting retailer Bass Pro Shops discriminate against non-white job applicants?

A lawsuit filed by the EEOC points to evidence that the 55-store chain has a pattern of discriminating against African-American and Hispanic job applicants.

Seeking back pay and other damages, the Bass Pro Shops discrimination suit was filed after settlement negotiations fell apart last year. The agency had been investigating the company since 2007.

Interviews with human resources employees and managers verify these allegations, reports the Wall Street Journal. Some claimed that executives told managers not to hire darker-skinned people.

At least one manager used racial slurs before telling the EEOC that "hiring black candidates did not fit the corporate profile," according to the complaint.

Others reported being subject to retaliation when they raised concerns about these practices.

Employment discrimination laws prohibit all of the above described activities.

Employers subject to Title VII may not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity when hiring employees. This includes using racial slurs and refusing to interview applicants based on names alone.

A company's public image is also generally not a permissible grounds for discrimination.

Moreover, the law protects persons who make complaints about perceived or actual discrimination. Employers may not fire, demote, or deny an employee a benefit simply because he or she complained about discrimination.

Because the Bass Pro Shops discrimination suit is still in its infancy, it is unknown whether the above allegations are true. The company is denying such practices, with CNN reporting that it plans to fight the suit.

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