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Press Release 08-05-2008


EEOC Charged that TSS Failed to Promote African Americans to Managerial Positions


LITTLE  ROCK, Ark. –  The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today announced that  Tobacco Superstores, Inc. (TSS) will pay $425,000 and provide significant  remedial relief to settle a race discrimination lawsuit on behalf of qualified  black workers who were denied promotion to management.

The EEOC’s lawsuit (Case No. 3:05  CV 00218) in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas,  Jonesboro Division, was filed on behalf of Theresa Sharkey and a class of  African Americans in Arkansas and Mississippi.  In addition to rejecting the class of workers for promotion because of  their race, the suit also alleged that Sharkey was forced to resign because of  the company’s failure to promote her.  Race discrimination violates Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In addition to the monetary relief for the  class of aggrieved individuals, the three-year consent decree settling  the case also enjoins TSS from denying promotions to African American employees  because of their race and from engaging in retaliation. The decree also requires TSS – which operates  retail  stores in Arkansas, Missouri,  and Mississippi  – to:

  • Provide training to all managers and supervisors on preventing race discrimination and retaliation;
  • Create job descriptions for manager and assistant manager positions that outline the qualifications for each position;
  • Develop a written  promotion policy that will include the procedures by which employees will be notified of promotional opportunities;
  • Report assistant manager and manager vacancies, the name and race of all applicants for the position, and the name of the successful candidate;
  • Report the names of all African Americans who are either hired or promoted to manager or assistant      manager positions; and
  • Report any complaints of race discrimination and describe its investigation in response to the complaint.

“On July 2, we observed the 44th  anniversary of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, yet race discrimination still  remains a persistent problem in today’s contemporary workplace,” said Regional  Attorney Faye A. Williams of the EEOC’s Memphis District Office, which has  jurisdiction over Arkansas, Tennessee,  and Northern Mississippi. “The EEOC urges  employers to be vigilant in guarding against race discrimination in all aspects  of employment.”

Celia Liner, the EEOC attorney who  led the federal government’s litigation effort, added, “All employees should  have the freedom to compete for promotions on a fair and level playing field,  without regard to race. We are pleased  that there are now effective procedures in place at this company to ensure that  promotional opportunities are based on qualifications, not race.”

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

In Fiscal Year 2007, the EEOC  received 30,510 charge filings alleging race-based discrimination, an increase  of 12% from the prior year and the highest level in more than a decade. Historically, race discrimination has  accounted for the most frequent type of charge filing with EEOC offices  nationwide.

The  EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further  information

about the EEOC is available on its web site at