Press Release 03-24-2009


Federal Agency Says Hispanics Paid Less Than Non-Hispanics, Denied Promotion and Health Benefits Due to National Origin


NEW YORK – Judge Harold Baer of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York gave final approval to a sweeping consent decree between the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and B & H Foto and Electronics Corp. (B & H), the federal agency announced today.  The decree resolves a national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC on behalf of 149 Hispanic warehouse workers at one of the largest retail sellers of photographic, computer and electronic equipment in the New York metropolitan area.


The EEOC's lawsuit, filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleged that B & H paid Hispanics in its warehouses in Manhattan and Brooklyn less than non-Hispanic workers and failed to promote them or provide health benefits because of their national origin (EEOC v. B & H Foto and Electronics Corp. No. 07 CV-9241).  Under the court-approved consent decree, B & H agreed to cooperate with the EEOC in a claims process to distribute $4.3 million in monetary relief to 149 employees who were paid less, not promoted, or denied benefits because they are Hispanic.


"Employers should be well aware by now that discriminating against workers because of their country of origin or ethnic background is unlawful and will not be tolerated," said the Commission's Acting Chairman Stuart J. Ishimaru.  "Employers face significant liability if they fail to comply with federal employment discrimination laws."


In addition to the multi-million dollar settlement fund, the consent decree contains injunctive relief requiring B & H to equalize the wages of Hispanic employees to their non-Hispanic coworkers, conduct employer training, adopt an anti-discrimination policy, post EEOC notices, report to the EEOC, and to be monitored by the EEOC for the following five years.


"We commend B & H for working cooperatively with us to resolve this matter without protracted litigation," said EEOC New York Trial Attorney Lou Graziano.  "We encourage other employers to follow B & H's example of resolving discrimination cases expeditiously and in good faith."

National origin discrimination means treating someone less favorably because he or she comes from a particular place, because of his or her ethnicity or accent, or because it is believed that he or she has a particular ethnic background.  National origin discrimination also means treating someone less favorably at work because of marriage or other association with someone of a particular nationality.

In Fiscal Year 2008, the EEOC received a record 10,601 national origin discrimination charge filings nationwide, an increase of 13% from the prior year and up 50% from about 7,000 charge filings a decade ago.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency's web site at