EEOC Consent Decree Against Retail Giant Ends Suit for Hiring Bias Against Blacks
MILWAUKEE – U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa today signed a consent decree ending a lawsuit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against Target Corporation for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by not hiring African Americans in the retail giant’s District 110 (Milwaukee and Madison, Wisc.) based on their race, and by failing to keep documents as required by law.
Under the two-and-one-half-year consent decree ending the nearly six-year old litigation (Civil Action No. 02-C-0146, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin in Feb. 2002), Target agreed to pay a total of $510,000 to Kalisha White, Ralpheal Edgeston Brown, Cherise Brown Easley, and James Daniels, Jr. – African Americans who were denied jobs as assistant store managers in 2000 and 2001. As part of the decree, Target also agreed to revise its document retention policies; provide training to supervisors on employment discrimination and record-keeping; report on hiring decisions; and post a notice about the consent decree to employees in its District 110 stores and offices.
The consent decree follows a 2006 unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, which reversed Judge Randa’s dismissal of the case and ruled that it should go to trial. The appeals court found that the EEOC had presented sufficient evidence that Target refused to hire the four African American applicants for entry-level management positions because of their race. The court also held that a trial was required on the issue of whether Target had destroyed employment applications in bad faith, and whether its changed policies with respect to retaining records were sufficient.
The appeals court’s decision (EEOC v. Target Corporation, 7th Cir. No. 04-3559) was authored by Circuit Judge Richard D. Cudahy and issued on Aug. 23, 2006. James Tucker and Lorraine Davis in the EEOC Office of General Counsel in Washington represented the agency on the appeal to the Seventh Circuit.
John Rowe, director of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, said that the appeals court decision was “noteworthy for its ruling that the trial court could admit into evidence expert testimony to the effect that the employer may have racially identified the applicants as African American on the basis of their names or accents heard during telephone conversations.”
EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney John Hendrickson said, “We think it’s fair to count the resolution of this case as a success for all concerned. There has been an important precedent-setting decision which will be important in future challenges to race discrimination on the job. The individuals upon whose behalf the EEOC brought this particular case are going to receive fair relief, and Target is going to be able to put the case behind it and move forward with its business as an important retailer.”
Dennis McBride, who led the EEOC’s litigation effort in the Milwaukee Area Office added, “We’re pleased that Target has agreed to resolve this case and move forward. The consent decree entered today will help ensure that all Target applicants will receive fair consideration.”
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 2006, the EEOC received 27,238 charges alleging race-based discrimination, accounting for 36 percent of the agency's private sector caseload. Historically, race-based charges have been the most frequent type of filing with EEOC offices nationwide.
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information is available on the EEOC’s web site, www.eeoc.gov