EEOC: Manager’s Firing to Satisfy Hispanic Customer “Preference” Violated Title VII

It’s a Title VII violation to base employment decisions on the real or imagined preferences of your customers for employees of a particular race. But that’s what the EEOC is alleging that an AutoZone Store in Chicago has done.

In a lawsuit filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the agency says that the store’s managers decided in 2012 to limit or eliminate the number of non-Hispanics working there, on the belief that the store’s Hispanic customers would prefer to be served by Hispanic employees.

Ergo, in forcing a black manager to transfer out of the store and take an assignment at another store-and then firing him when he resisted– Autozone violated Title VII, the EEOC says.

“Fifty years after the adoption of the Civil Rights Act, a major employer transferring an employee simply because of his race and then firing him for not going along is unacceptable,” said John Hendrickson, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago.  “When the employer is a major national brand and a leader in its industry, it’s even worse.  Everyone must understand that supposed customer preference is no excuse for discrimination – it’s still illegal, and the EEOC will step in to challenge it.”

Learn more about the case here.

 

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