Some of our readers may remember the class-action lawsuit that was brought against the Wet Seal nearly a year ago in July that accused the national retailer of racially discriminating against its black employees. Although the initial complaint of workplace discrimination to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was filed in California, it quickly became a national case when it was discovered that other Wet Seal locations, possibly including the ones here in Indianapolis as well, had also engaged in this unlawful behavior.
The lawsuit claimed that Wet Seal executives had denied equal pay and promotion opportunities to black store managers. The complaint also says that many black employees were fired and replaced with white employees, which was viewed wholeheartedly as race discrimination.
The Wet Seal has finally settled the class action this month and has agreed to pay $7.5 million for violating the Civil Rights Act. The company has also agreed to put at least $5.8 million of that into a fund to cover damages to the current and former black managers at the Wet Seal who felt they had been discriminated against in their jobs.
While it'd be nice for people in Illinois to not have to worry about discrimination such as this in the workplace, cases like this highlight the fact that there is always reason for concern. Because despite the numerous state and federal laws that are designed to protect employees from instances such as this, there are still employers out there that abuse these laws and their employees as well. Holding these guilty companies accountable for their actions is one the many steps employees can take to make sure that discrimination such as this is thwarted before it can happen again any time soon.
Source: The Los Angeles Times, "Wet Seal to pay $7.5 million to settle race discrimination suit," Tiffany Hsu, May 9, 2013