- Dillard’s has agreed to pay $900,000 in back pay and damages to settle a race discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Commission (EEOC) alleging that it failed "to promote African American employees based on race," the agency said Oct. 9.
- EEOC alleged that the Arkansas-based department store violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by failing to post supervisory and management positions at its retail locations nationwide and denied promotions based on race.
- The employer also agreed to develop and post written promotion policies for its stores nationwide; post supervisor and manager vacancies; provide anti-discrimination training and provide a dedicated email address and telephone number for employees to use in making failure-to-promote complaints based on race and to report such complaint to the EEOC. Dillard’s also agreed to contact historically Black colleges and universities to recruit students into its Little Rock buyer’s program.
Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin. The law forbids discrimination in any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoffs, training, fringe benefits and any other term or condition of employment, according to EEOC.
Dillard’s agreement to reach out to HBCUs comes at a time when many corporate leaders are examining their diversity and inclusion policies and practices in the wake of the killing in May of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by a former Minneapolis police officer, and the nationwide protests for racial justice that followed.
Numerous employers announced initiatives to improve diversity and inclusion. High-profile employers such as Microsoft and Wells Fargo committed to doubling the number of black leaders in their corporations by 2025, and some tied diversity efforts to executive pay. More than a dozen U.S. companies also signed onto a "board challenge," pledging to add a Black director within the next year.
Workplace agencies and organizations also pledged to address workplace racial inequality. The EEOC issued a resolution following Floyd’s death and vowed to "redouble" its "efforts to address institutionalized racism, advance justice and foster equality of opportunity in the workplace.” The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) said in July that it had formed a "blue ribbon commission" that will seek to address issues of racial inequity in the workplace.
However, the Trump administration seems to be pushing back against such efforts. The U.S. Department of Labor earlier this month sent letters to Microsoft and Wells Fargo asking them to prove that their actions are not illegal race-based decisions. Trump also issued a Sept. 22 executive order barring federal contractors from conducting diversity and inclusion training that includes "divisive" components such as white males being asked to acknowledge "privilege."