Employee Denied Promotion Because of Race, Federal Agency Charged
JACKSON, Miss. - Dollar General Corporation will pay $32,500 and furnish other relief to settle a race discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
In its lawsuit filed on September 25, 2012, the EEOC charged that Dollar General refused on at least three separate occasions to promote a black employee, Demetrice Hersey, to a vacant assistant store manager position at its Long Beach, Miss., store because of her race. The EEOC alleged that Hersey had expressed interest in promotion and had substantial qualifications, but Dollar General instead hired less-qualified white applicants. The suit further alleged that Dollar General subjected Hersey to increasing hostility and discipline after she complained about the unequal treatment. The company denied the allegations in court.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits race discrimination and retaliation for complaining about it. The EEOC filed the lawsuit against Dolgencorp, LLC d/b/a Dollar General (No. 1: 13-cv-00383-LG-JCG) in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.
The court entered a two-year consent decree on June 2 finally resolving the suit. Under the decree, Dollar General is required to maintain effective anti-discrimination policies, which must be provided to all newly hired employees in the company's Gulf Coast region. Dollar General is also required to enact and maintain practices to prevent future discriminatory conduct, including providing management training on anti-discrimination laws. The decree also provides other injunctive relief to ensure discrimination complaints are promptly reported and investigated.
Earlier in the litigation, the court denied Dollar General's motion for summary judgment on the merits of the EEOC's race promotion claim. The case was scheduled for trial in May. The EEOC sought monetary relief for lost wages and compensatory damages on behalf of Hersey as part of its lawsuit. The case was litigated on behalf of the EEOC by Trial Attorneys Maneesh Varma and Christopher Woolley.
"We are pleased that Dollar General has taken steps to rectify the wrongs we believe were committed against Ms. Hersey," said Varma. "The Commission will continue fighting for the rights of workers to ensure that employment decisions are based on merit rather than race."
EEOC District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas remarked that "employees should be considered for promotion based on merit and race should not be a factor in the application process. The Commission will continue to pursue claims where race is used as a disqualifying factor."
Dollar General, which claims to be the nation's largest small-box discount retailer, operates more than 11,800 stores in 43 states, including nearly 400 in Mississippi.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC's Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle. Further information about the EEOC is available on its website at www.eeoc.gov.