Bass Pro Shops settles $10.5M race discrimination case
- Bass Pro Outdoor World, LLC, a, Springfield, Mo.-based sporting goods and apparel retailer, settled an EEOC-led race discrimination and retaliation lawsuit for $10.5 million and other "significant relief."
- The EEOC’s suit charged that the company discriminated in hiring at its retail stores, unlawfully retaliated against employees who opposed practices they believed to be unlawful, and failed to adhere to federal record-keeping laws and regulations.
- The EEOC said it will focus on "strengthening" Bass Pro's diversity efforts, including the hiring of a diversity and inclusion leader at the company.
Discrimination cases like this raise a pressing question: Where was HR? EEOC typically acts on complaints when it believes a claim has merit. HR managers who are unresponsive to bias allegations disserve both organizations and employees.
To resolve the claim, EEOC required the company to hire a diversity and inclusion director, an increasingly important position for companies of all sizes. Having such leadership on board provides a point-person to handle potential issues and create strategy to improve diversity efforts. It also provides a clear sign that diversity and inclusion is a real value of the company — as long as the director also has the resources he or she needs.
HR often can head off legal action — and exorbitant settlement fees like Bass Pro's — by auditing internal recruiting, hiring and retention strategies to uncover discriminatory practices, and following up on and investigating complaints. Employers that make a good-faith effort to comply with anti-discrimination laws are regarded more favorably in disputes.