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National retail chain accused of racial discrimination

National retail chain Wet Seal has been accused of racial discrimination by a group of African American employees from locations around the country. One of the lead plaintiffs was a manager at a King of Prussia, Pennsylvania store location and says that she was wrongfully terminated based on her race.

The evidence that has surfaced so far shows that racial discrimination was likely present at the very stop levels of the company. An email from a former senior vice president instructs a district manager to hire someone with "blond hair and blue eyes" for a store manager job. The next day that district manager fired the King of Prussia employee without explanation.

The lawsuit has been brought on behalf of over 250 current and former African American employees of the women's clothing store. Each of the plaintiffs had been or are managers at one of Wet Seal's 550 locations around the United States. They are seeking class action status.

We write about discrimination often on this blog and work hard to bring justice to those who are discriminated against in Pennsylvania. Still, each new case provides a shocking reminder that despite all of the laws protecting minorities from unequal treatment, discrimination is still happening all the time.

Unfortunately, discrimination can be subtle and hard to pinpoint, and many people are unwilling to believe that it could be the reason that they were fired or not promoted. In other cases, discrimination and workplace harassment can intimidate and cause emotional harm to employees, making it difficult to come forward and seek justice.

Source: New York Times, "Lawsuit Claims Race Bias at Wet Seal Retail Chain," Steven Greenhouse, July 12, 2012.

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