National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit hits Wal-Mart

An EEOC-championed national origin discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart has left the Bentonville, Arkansas-based megastore reeling. According to a February 8th story in the New York Times, a group of West African men allege that a Wal-Mart store in Avon, Colorado fired them because of their race and African heritage.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission allegations say that, in January 2009, a new manager took over the Wal-Mart store in Avon and promptly called a meeting of the staff — many of whom happened to be West African. The manager allegedly said, “I don’t like some of the faces I see here. There are people in Eagle County who need jobs.” He also allegedly remarked, “Wow, there are a lot of Africans, and I don’t like some of the faces I see here.”

Subsequent to this manager’s takeover, many West African employees were reportedly subject to extra criticism and stiffer workloads. One 61-year old man exhausted himself stacking boxes — he was not physically capable of doing the work. West African employees also reported that Hispanic and white Wal-Mart associates got to take cigarette breaks, even though they were disallowed short prayer breaks.

A long time assistant night manager was quoted in the New York Times saying that the managers “were trying to get most of the Africans out… a lot of them have been there for a long time. They weren’t being treated right.”

Wal-Mart is no stranger to employment discrimination lawsuits. The company is currently embroiled in the biggest class action lawsuit in the history of the U.S. The case involves over 1.5 million female employees who currently (or used to) work for the retailer. In 2009, Wal-Mart paid out over $17 million in a separate class action lawsuit brought on behalf of African-American truck drivers.

If you or a co-worker or family member has suffered national origin discrimination on the job, help is a click or a phone call away. The New York City national origin discrimination law firm of Joseph & Kirschenbaum can provide immediate assistance for your employment-related issue. Head to our website, www.jhllp.com, for lots of free resources about discrimination topics, or call us for a free consultation at (212) 688-5640.