Yesterday, three former employees of the retail clothing store Wet Seal sued the company alleging that it engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against African Americans. Attached to the lawsuit was an email from the Senior VP of Store Operations who, after performing a variety of store visits, said about the stores “African American dominate – huge issue.” The lawsuit also alleges that corporate executives threatened store managers with termination if they did not staff more white employees in their stores. The Senior VP of Store Operations allegedly called this effort to hire more white employees “lightening up” the stores.
The email attached to this lawsuit is a particularly powerful piece of evidence of discrimination. It is quite rare to find an email like that because most managers who decide to discriminate against a particular race of people do not document their intentions. It is possible that this Wet Seal executive never thought that her email would leak out to people who would use it against the company.
This case illustrates how overt race discrimination still occurs in corporate America. However, since companies rarely document these discriminatory motives, most successful employment discrimination cases depend on circumstantial evidence like proof that one race of employees receives better treatment than another. If you believe that your employer is discriminating against you because of your race, you should contact an experienced employment lawyer to learn more about your rights and how you can enforce them.