TGF Legal Updates, July 2013
Evan A. Gould, Esq.
(619) 291-9858

Discrimination, Harassment


   Target Charged with Employment Discrimination Again:
        Target was way off the mark when it published a  memo    for its mostly Caucasian management staff on  how to  deal  with a certain segment of its employees that  are of a  different culture. As a result, three of the retail  giant's  employees have filed a discrimination suit against  Target.  Target has since issued a statement that in  summary says  the memo was not intended to insult  anyone.

     Unfortunately for Target, the memo did insult at least three of its employees. The lawsuit, filed in Northern California asks for a judge to award them punitive damages in an undisclosed amount. Court documents also claim that Caucasian supervisors often spoke to the employees using racial slurs. The memo in question made several derogatory statements regarding employees of Hispanic descent. What Target referred to as "tips" such as "Food: not everyone eats tacos and burritos" were included in the memo. The suit alleged that managers in the Northern California warehouse where the three men worked often heard statements such as "You got to be Mexican to work like this." on a regular basis. When one of the men complained, he alleges his complaints were ignored, and he was fired.

     Every California employee has the right to work in an environment free from discrimination and harassment. Anytime an employee believes that they have been mistreated, he or she has the right to file a complaint. If that complaint is not dealt with to the employee's satisfaction, there are other options. As the three Target employees did in this case, a lawsuit can be filed against the employer.

Source: Source: ABC News, "Target Apologizes for 'Multi-Cultural' Tips Used in Northern Calif. Warehouse," Susanna Kim, July 10, 2013


 Wet Seal is all Wet, Settles claims for $ 7.5 Million

     Market branding is a term that is very important to companies. It defines not only the product or service that it sells, but the company itself. While a company has discretion to choose how they want to present their brand, there are certain limitations to that discretion when the choices violate legally protected rights. The clothing retailer Wet Seal made the decision to market their brand by hiring only caucasian employees, specifically ones with blond hair and blue eyes. Not only was this a hiring choice, but according to a group of black employees, it also cost them their job. Now, the retailer has chosen to settle the racial discrimination lawsuit with a $7.5 million payment.

     According to the class-action complaint filed in a Santa Ana federal court, the company discriminated against employees across the united states not only by ending their employment, but denying them equal pay and opportunities for promotion.

     Since the filing of the complaint, the company has undergone a serious management overhaul. Susan McGalla became the former chief executive in January and John D. Goodman was named as the new CEO. In his new role, one of the first major decisions was to agree to the settlement that would set aside $5.58 million of the award for the employees who were subjected to the alleged discrimination -- admission of fault was not included in the settlement. In addition to the money, the new management has promised that the company would put a future focus on ensuring diversity in the hiring process. It would also put in place better standards and more resources to help internally investigation complaints of discrimination made to the human resources department.
Source: Los Angeles Times, "Wet Seal to pay $7.5 million to settle race discrimination suit," Tiffany Hsu, May 9, 2013