Alleged Workplace Discrimination at Bass Pro Shop in Indiana

July 23, 2012

43211_fishing_pole.jpgBass Pro Shop is known for providing equipment of all types to those who love the outdoors. Their stores are filled with camping, hunting, and fishing gear, and often have indoor fish ponds and activities to keep children occupied while their parents shop. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), one thing you may not find there is a large number of minority employees.

In a lawsuit initially filed in 2011, the EEOC alleges that Bass Pro Shops in several states, including Indiana, practice racial discrimination. Minorities had been denied retail positions in the stores since at least 2005, the lawsuit claimed. In May 2012, the federal court ruled against the EEOC, stating there was not enough evidence provided in the initial case to prove discrimination occurred. The case was dismissed without prejudice, which meant the EEOC could file an amended complaint.

Which is exactly what the EEOC has done. On July 20, 2012, an amended complaint was filed against the retailer with 247 pages of information that was allegedly gathered over a two-year period. The suit states that the discrimination starts all the way at the top with the founder and owner of the entire chain, who supposedly said, "This company will never have a [racial] quota system because that's not the kind of people I want working in my stores." Specifically in Indiana, the lawsuit says a manager of the Bass Pro Shop there was throwing away certain employment applications because the names of the applicants sounded like they were minorities and that they "don't make good employees." The lawsuit also states that retaliation occurred against Bass Pro Shop employees that spoke out about or tried to stop the discrimination.

The company has responded to the lawsuit by stating the EEOC is stereotyping Bass Pro Shop and its customers. It says those who love the outdoors are being stereotyped as discriminating people who don't support equal opportunity for everyone. The EEOC denies this claim.

In the lawsuit, the EEOC is requesting payment of lost wages for those who were discriminated or retaliated against, as well as reinstatement of their jobs if they were wrongfully terminated. The commission would also like to have a permanent injunction in place that would keep any Bass Pro Shop from discriminating or retaliating against any potential or current employees and would like to be awarded punitive damages in an effort to further dissuade the store from discriminating in the future.

Racial discrimination does not only happen in national retail chains, it happens in smaller places of employment as well. It can take several forms. Being refused employment because of one's race, being denied desirable shifts, promotions, managerial positions, or raises, and being referred to in a derogatory manner based on race are three common types of racial discrimination. If you are subject to discrimination of any kind at your job, contact a Kentucky employment law attorney to determine what steps should be taken to ensure better treatment and equality for you and your coworkers.

Sources:

Feds refile suit against Bass Pro; Connecticut Post; Brian Lockhart; July 20, 2012

EEOC Launches Legal Discrimination Case Against Bass Pro Shop; The Christian Post; Stephanie Samuel; September 22, 2011