Bass Pro Outdoor World L.L.C., a 60-store sporting goods retailer, has been charged by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission with engaging in a pattern of failing to hire African-American and Hispanic job applicants, the agency said.
The lawsuit, filed Sept. 22 in federal court in Houston, accuses the Springfield, Missouri-based retailer of violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and says it has been discriminating in its hiring practices since at least November 2005.
The suit alleges that qualified African-Americans and Hispanics routinely were denied retail positions such as cashier, sales associate, team leader, supervisor and manager at many stores nationwide.
The suit also says managers at locations including the Houston area and Louisiana "made overtly racially derogatory remarks acknowledging the discriminatory practices including that hiring black candidates did not fit the corporate profile," said the agency in a statement.
Furthermore, the lawsuit accuses Bass Pro of unlawfully destroying or failing to keep records and documents related to employment applications and internal discrimination complaints, and of punishing employees who complained about such practices by either firing them or forcing them to resign.
"The EEOC takes allegations of retaliation and document destruction very seriously and will pursue them with the same intensity as the allegations of hiring discrimination," R.J. Ruff, director of the EEOC's Houston district office, said in the statement.
Retaliation charges are the most common type of employment claim against companies.
Among other things, the lawsuit seeks back pay, compensatory and punitive damages, and other relief. It also seeks reconsideration for rejected job applicants and reinstatement of mistreated former employees.
A company spokesman could not be reached for comment.