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Bass Pro Shops faces EEOC lawsuit alleging race discrimination

While it might be difficult to imagine, race discrimination is still a problem in the American workplace, even here in South Florida.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently filed a lawsuit against a popular sporting goods company with two locations in South Florida, accusing the company of engaging in race discrimination and retaliation.

Bass Pro Outdoor World LLC, a Springfield, Missouri-based company with stores in other parts of the United States, is accused of discriminating against Hispanic and African-American applicants. The lawsuit claims that these practices have been taking place within Bass Pro Shops since at least 2005.

The federal agency also claims that managers at a few stores in particular - located in Texas and Louisiana - have made derogatory comments suggesting that they were aware and in support of the company's discriminatory hiring practices.

In addition to race discrimination, the company has been accused of retaliation against employees who opposed the practices. Some employees were allegedly fired or forced to resign because of their contrary viewpoints.

Management at Bass Pro Shops denies the allegations and would not agree to settle the matter voluntarily. Therefore a lawsuit was filed seeking back pay for victims of discrimination and retaliation. It also seeks to prohibit the company from engaging in similar acts in the future.

A regional attorney for the EEOC said: "We will hold employers accountable for depriving qualified minority workers of good jobs simply because of their race or national origin. Such behavior is always out of season."

Source: South Florida Business Journal, "Bass Pro Shops sued for employment discrimination," Sept. 22, 2011

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