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Eeoc finds Wet Seal practiced race discrimination

Louisiana employees who have been unfairly discriminated against because of their race by their employers understand how demeaning it can be. Federal and state laws prohibit an employer from discriminating against an employee on the basis of race.

After a three year investigation, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that employee rights were violated at Wet Seal. The findings indicated that an African American woman, who was a former store manager for the clothing company, was subjected to a hostile work environment as a result of her race.

The investigation discovered evidence that corporate managers for Wet Seal expressed a belief that the company would be more profitable if it hired employees who had an "Armani" look. This meant individuals who were blond, had blue eyes and were thin. According to the EEOC's findings, managers at Wet Seal were told to make decisions related to employment based upon race.

In this case, discriminatory policies were highlighted in e-mails. However in many cases, race discrimination in the workplace can be more difficult to demonstrate or detect. When the discrimination takes place subtly a victim may not always have physical evidence illustrating the discrimination. Regardless of whether evidence exists or not, racial discrimination in the workplace is prohibited by both state and federal laws.

Under federal law, an employer cannot fire or discipline an employee because of his or her race, pay an employee less or not provide benefits based upon race or refuse to hire an individual because of his or her race. States have similar laws as well.

If a person believes he or she has experienced employment discrimination based on race, there are time considerations to take into account when contemplating whether to take legal action against an employer. An attorney can outline the time table, as well as examine the case. No one should ever be discriminated against in the workplace because of his or her race. If this form of workplace discrimination does happen, it is important to know there are legal options available.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Wet Seal discriminated against former black manager, EEOC says," Dec. 4, 2012

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