Wet Seal Agrees To Settle Employment Class-Action Lawsuit

California-based retailer Wet Seal has agreed to settle an employment class-action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination for $7.5 million dollars. The success of the plaintiffs' claim shows how class-action lawsuits can help individuals work together to make a greater impact than they could alone.

Lawsuit Says Wet Seal Committed Racial Discrimination

The lawsuit was filed in California federal court in 2012, and it accused Wet Seal of discriminating against employees based on their race. The Los Angeles Times reports that the lawsuit claimed that company executives did not provide promotion opportunities and equal pay to black store managers. It also alleged that some black managers were fired only to be replaced with white workers.

Further, the lawsuit stated that Barbara Bachman, Wet Seal's Vice President of Store Operations, wrote an email after visiting some stores that said, "African Americans dominate - huge issue." In addition, it claimed Bachman instructed a district manager to fire black managers and "clean the entire store out" in 2008, according to a report by Southern California Public Radio.

In January 2013, Wet Seal hired a new chief executive officer and replaced its board with new members. On May 9, 2013, the company agreed to settle the class-action lawsuit, pending approval of the settlement by the judge, according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to the terms of the proposed settlement, Wet Seal will pay $7.5 million. At least $5.58 million will be put into a fund to pay damages to current and former Wet Seal managers who experienced racial discrimination. In addition, Wet Seal said it will make changes such as expanding its human resources department, tracking applications to ensure diversity in hiring and using an advisory council to help with equal employment matters, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.

Employment Class-Action Lawyers

This lawsuit demonstrates how class-action lawsuits can help employees who have been discriminated against at work. When someone is fired or denied promotion opportunities because of his or her race, gender or other protected characteristic, the worker may feel it would not be effective or time- or cost-efficient to bring a legal claim against the company. However, when several workers from the same company have experienced similar discrimination, they may be able to make a joint effort with a greater likelihood of bringing about change and obtaining redress for the company's wrongdoing.

Racial discrimination in employment is illegal and should not be allowed to happen. If you have been denied a promotion or equal pay or have been fired because of your race, contact a knowledgeable employment attorney to discuss your legal options.