Sports Fashion Chain Refused to Hire or Promote African-Americans and Hispanics Into Management Positions and Harassed Black Employees, Federal Agency Charges
CHICAGO - City Sports, a chain of sports fashion stores with over 20 locations in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, violated federal civil rights laws by failing to hire and promote African-Americans and Hispanics into management positions in favor of hiring Koreans to fill management roles, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. City Sports also subjected three black salespeople to harassment because of their race, the EEOC charged.
Julianne Bowman, the district director of EEOC's Chicago office, said that the EEOC's pre-suit investigation revealed that while most of City Sports sales staff were African-American or Hispanic, very few managers were. Generally, when the company hired managers, it hired Korean individuals from outside the company, passing over for promotion black or Hispanic salespeople who had worked for the company for years, not even giving them the chance to apply for a promotion.
Company officials' explanations for why they favored hiring Koreans for management positions revealed they held negative stereotypes about the suitability of African-Americans and Hispanics for management roles. In addition, the investigation showed that a Korean store manager harassed Dorian Hudson, Curtis Ingram and D'Andre Brown because of their race, by subjecting them to repeated racial slurs.
Race and national origin discrimination and harassment violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed today's suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case (EEOC v. Palm USA, Inc. dba City Sports, et al., Civil Action No. 17-cv-6692 was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division and assigned to Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer. The EEOC is seeking full relief, including back pay, instatement or promotion for affected individuals, compensatory and punitive damages, and non-monetary measures to correct City Sports' practices going forward.
"Denying employment opportunities based on ugly, negative racial and ethnic stereotypes is illegal and wrong," said Greg Gochanour, regional attorney of the EEOC's Chicago District Office. "Title VII's guarantee of equal employment opportunity is not fulfilled simply by hiring people of a particular race or ethnicity into entry-level positions. Every qualified employee, regardless of race or national origin, must be given the opportunity to compete for high-level positions. That opportunity was denied here, and we hope this suit will lead to fair consideration of black and Hispanic candidates for management jobs in the future."
The City Sports locations covered by the suit include 18 stores in Chicago, and stores in Joliet, Bolingbrook, North Riverside and West Chicago.
The EEOC's Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of employment discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.