3 Businesses Caught Discriminating Against Their Employees Based On Race

ByDanielle Paradis

If you are one of those people who choose "not to see" race, you are also choosing to ignore the effect that race-based discrimination has on communities of color. Far beyond minor inconveniences, racial discrimination has detrimental impacts on health, self-esteem, and stress levels. 

Sadly, even in 2013 we’re a culture formed of oppression where the pigment of your complexion defines your accessibility to basic rights. One of the very real effects of discrimination is difficulty in finding employment. Racial discrimination can be a challenge to prove, but these institutions have faced serious accusations. 

1. Abercrombie & Fitch: Guilty

In 2009, Abercrombie & Fitch came under scrutiny for their discriminatory hiring practices. In a story by the CBC, Anthony Ocampo recalls working at A&F in his hometown during Christmas break; when he returned that summer he says he was told they wouldn't rehire him because there were "too many Filipinos" at that location.

The clothing store has also been found guilty of discrimination and ordered to pay $20,000 to a 19-year-old Muslim college student who was refused a job in 2008 because her hijab violated the store's "look policy."

You'd think they'd have changed their ways after that, but no: the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) sued Abercrombie just two years ago on behalf of Hani Khan, a Muslim woman who says she was fired from a Hollister store in a California mall in 2010 because she wore a hijab to work. 

2. 'The Bachelor': Accused

A group of Nashville residents, led by Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson, are bringing a class-action lawsuit against the ABC dating competition series The Bachelor and The Bachelorette for racial discrimination.

According to the suit, "the deliberate exclusion of people of color from the roles of 'the bachelor' and 'bachelorette' underscores the significant barriers that people of color continue to face in media and the broader marketplace." It suit continues: “studies show that images presented in the media play a substantial role in the formation of peoples’ racial attitudes and opinions.”

A look through the five season’s worth of participants in the photo gallery demonstrates how whiteness of the The Bachelor.  

U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger disagreed with the lawsuit, however. The judge's decision was that casting is protected by the first amendment. NPR pointed out that this means that "even if the plaintiffs were right that the show was in fact outright refusing to cast people of color, in part to avoid 'controversy' over interracial dating, its right to do that would be protected from interference." 

Warner Horizon Television, called the complaint "baseless and without merit" in a statement to CNN. But anyone with a television can see that its whitewashed, first amendment or not. 

3. Merrill Lynch: Guilty

Merrill Lynch currently faces a $39 million dollar lawsuit that claims the bank discriminated against women in compensation and business opportunities. However, as is often the case, gender discrimination was not the only issue. 

The financial management company is paying 160 million dollars to black former employees. Their racial-bias lawsuit accused the company of steering away black brokers from the most lucrative business. The primary plaintiff, George McReynolds, spoke about a pattern of discrimination that resulted in blacks having lower production and making less money than white men at the company. 

Merrill Lynch will now go down in history, though surely not for something they're proud of: this lawsuit is one of the largest discrimination suits in ever.