Posted On: April 19, 2009 by

Nordstrom Pays $292,500 To Settle EEOC Discrimination Lawsuit

Nordstrom, Inc. will pay $292,500 to 10 former employees and furnish other remedial measures to settle a harassment lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). The EEOC had alleged that the department store manager harassed Hispanic and black employees based on their national origin, engaged in racial discrimination and retaliated against those who complained about the harassment.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, an alterations department manager at Nordstrom complained that she "hate[d] Hispanics," and that Hispanics were "lazy" and "ignorant." Hispanic tailors were chastised by the alterations manager for speaking to each other in Spanish. The same manager made other derogatory remarks such as "I don't like blacks" and "you're black, you stink." These types of comments are a clear violation of federal law and will always subject a company to liability. Harassment based on national origin, race, and color violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

"Employers must act swiftly to correct harassment and prevent abusive conduct," said EEOC Regional Attorney Nora E. Curtin. "Instead of dealing with the despicable racial and ethnic comments, Nordstrom management allowed the harasser to retaliate against the employees for complaining."

The employees complained to Nordstrom about the harassment, but the harassment did not stop. The alteration's manager retaliated against those who complained by continuing the racially offensive comments, unfairly berating employees and citing them for alleged performance problems.

Under the terms of a consent decree, Nordstrom will pay $292,500 in damages. The decree also requires the company to distribute its policy addressing unlawful harassment to all employees in the Wellington and Palm Beach stores; provide harassment training, post a notice on the resolution of the lawsuit, and submit a semi-annual report to EEOC on all harassment complaints received during the next two years.

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