Race discrimination is still illegal | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Race discrimination is still illegal

Posted By on Tue, Aug 5, 2008 at 2:09 PM

I'm always surprised, in the Bush era, to learn you can still be penalized for discriminating against people on the basis of race. Today, the EEOC announced that Tobacco Superstores would pay $425,000 and take other steps as a result of discriminating against blacks in promotion.

EEOC NEWS RELEASE

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
(EEOC) today announced that Tobacco Superstores, Inc. (TSS) will pay
$425,000 and provide significant remedial relief to settle a race discrimination
lawsuit on behalf of qualified black workers who were denied promotion to
management.

The EEOC's lawsuit (Case No. 3:05 CV 00218) in U.S. District Court for the
Eastern District of Arkansas, Jonesboro Division, was filed on behalf of
Theresa Sharkey and a class of African Americans in Arkansas and
Mississippi.  In addition to rejecting the class of workers for promotion
because of their race, the suit also alleged that Sharkey was forced to resign
because of the company's failure to promote her.   Race discrimination
violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

In addition to the monetary relief for the class of aggrieved individuals, the
three-year consent decree settling the case also enjoins TSS from denying
promotions to African American employees because of their race and from
engaging in retaliation.  The decree also requires TSS, which operates retail
stores in Arkansas, Missouri, and Mississippi, to:

*Provide training to all managers and supervisors on preventing race
discrimination and retaliation;

*Create job descriptions for manager and assistant manager positions
that outline the qualifications for each position;

*Develop a written promotion policy that will include the procedures
by which employees will be notified of promotional opportunities;

*Report assistant manager and manager vacancies, the name and
race of all applicants for the position, and the name of the successful
candidate;

*Report the names of all African Americans who are either hired or
promoted to manager or assistant manager positions; and

*Report any complaints of race discrimination and describe its
investigation in response to the complaint.

"On July 2, we observed the 44th anniversary of Title VII of the Civil Rights
Act, yet race discrimination remains a persistent problem in the 21st century
workplace," said EEOC Regional Attorney Faye A. Williams of the EEOC's
Memphis District Office, which has jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee, and
Northern Mississippi. "The EEOC urges employers to be vigilant in guarding
against race discrimination in all aspects of employment."

Celia Liner, the EEOC attorney who led the federal government's litigation
effort, added, "All employees should have the freedom to compete for
promotions on a fair and level playing field, without regard to race.  We are
pleased that there are now effective procedures in place at this company to
ensure that promotional opportunities are based on qualifications, not
race."   

On Feb. 28, 2007, EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp launched the Commission's E- RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism and Colorism from Employment), a national
outreach, education, and enforcement campaign focusing on new and
emerging race and color issues in the 21st century workplace. Further
information about the E-RACE Initiative is available on the EEOC's web site at
http://www.eeoc.gov/initiatives/e-race/index.html.

In Fiscal Year 2007, the EEOC received 30,510 charge filings alleging race- based discrimination, an increase of 12% from the prior year and the highest
level in the past 15 years.  Historically, race discrimination has accounted for
the most frequent type of charge filing with EEOC offices nationwide.

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