Corporate Officials Instructed Managers to Make Employment Decisions Based on Race
(New York, NY) The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued a Determination that Wet Seal, Inc., a national women’s clothing retailer, racially discriminated against a former store manager, Nicole Cogdell. Cogdell is lead plaintiff in a pending national race discrimination class action against Wet Seal. Cogdell v. The Wet Seal, Inc., (C.D. Cal. SACV12-01138). The suit alleges Wet Seal had a corporate policy of discriminating against its African-American store managers in pay, promotions and termination. The Determination, issued on November 29, 2012 and made public today, after a three-year investigation, includes the following findings:
Nicole Cogdell said, “After three long years, I feel justified by the EEOC’s Determination. It is intolerable for any company—let alone a major company with hundreds of outlets—to blatantly discriminate against its African-American employees. But I wasn’t the only victim of Wet Seal’s discrimination, and I will not stop fighting for justice for all the victims.”
“The EEOC Determination fully supports the claims Cogdell has made in the class action case,” says lead counsel for the class Brad Seligman of the Oakland, CA law firm of Lewis, Feinberg, Lee, Renaker & Jackson. “We are moving forward aggressively to document the impact of Wet Seal’s discriminatory policy.”
“As the EEOC’s determination recognized, employment discrimination persists and can still bear striking similarity to practices that belong in the dustbin of history,” says Debo Adegbile, Acting President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Inc. (LDF). LDF is also counsel for the class.
The case, brought by Cogdell and two other former managers, seeks lost pay and compensatory and punitive damages for all African-American store managerial employees who suffered discrimination in promotions, pay and termination. The case is in the investigation phase.
The class is also represented by the Media Pennsylvania firm of Gallagher, Schoenfeld, Surkin, Chupein & DeMis.