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Wet Seal agrees to pay for race discrimination

Accused of firing black employees in favor of staffing the store with blonde haired, blue eyed workers, Wet Seal will pay $7.5 million for discrimination. According to the class action lawsuit that was filed against the retailer for employment discrimination, former top executives at Wet Seal refused to grant promotions and equal pay to African-American store managers. In some cases, the managers were removed and replaced with a white employees.

A three year investigation found that the company removed African-American employees because the clothing retailer was pursuing an image that fit the company's interpretation of Armani. The company has undergone many changes, including removing members from its board and replacing its chief executive.

Under new leadership, the company has reportedly agreed to pay a $7.5 million settlement, at least $5.58 million of which will be placed in a fund to pay damages to former and current black managers. The company has also agreed to track its application process to ensure diversity in hiring, increase its human resources department to better equip it to investigation discrimination complaints, and utilize a council of advisers to to assist the company with strategies to ensure equal employment.

Workplace discrimination can be a difficult situation for an employee to handle on his or her own. Consulting a lawyer who specializes in employment law can offer a worker the confidential expert advice he or she may need when deciding how to proceed with a potential discrimination complaint. A lawyer can possibly help a worker determine whether he or she has a valid claim and evaluate the best way to move forward.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Wet Seal to pay $7.5 million to settle race discrimination suit", Tiffany Hsu, May 09, 2013

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