EEOC sues Sally Beauty for unlawful hiring practices

Marilyn Tennissen Sep. 27, 2007, 5:59am

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a federal discrimination suit against a West Orange business that allegedly enforces racial quotas in its stores.

The suit by the EEOC against Sally Beauty Supply LLC was filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, enacted to correct unlawful employment discrimination on the basis of race, on behalf of Felicia Spears. According to the original complaint, filed Sept. 24 in the Beaumont Division of the Eastern District of Texas, Sally discriminated against Spears because of her race by revoking a job offer and denying her employment because of the policy of its management to enforce racial quotas.

The EEOC is the federal agency charged with the administration, interpretation and enforcement of Title VII, and is expressly authorized to bring the legal action as plaintiff.

Spears claims that on Sept. 5, 2005, she applied for a job at Sally Beauty Supply in West Orange, Orange County, after seeing a "Help Wanted" sign posted at the store. Spears had applied for a job as a part-time cashier earlier in 2005, but was not hired at that time.

Store employee Nicole Fusilier took in Spears' application, and phoned District Manager Jessica Nelson while Spears was still in the store. After the call, Fusilier told Spears she could begin work on Sept. 7, 2005.

Prior to Spears' start date, Nelson called the store and talked to acting store manager Bridgett Nugier and employee Shalonda Daniel.

"During this conversation, in which Nugier and Daniel participated using separate telephone receivers, Nelson instructed Nugier to explain to Spears that 'we changed our mind because it has to be even,'" the original complaint states.

On Sept. 7, 2005, Spears arrived at Sally Beauty Supply to start work, as she had been told to do two days before. But when she entered the store, Spears says she received anything but a welcome.

"She was told by Acting Store Manager Nugier that 'We can't hire you because we already have two blacks working here, I'm the only Caucasian, and it has to be even,'" the petition states.
On Sept. 10, 2005, Sally Beauty then hired another Caucasian, Jennie Cooper.

"Ms. Spears was not hired because of her race, black," wrote EEOC General Counsel Ronald S. Cooper in the suit.

The effect of Sally Beauty Supply's practices "has been to deprive Ms. Spears and applicants seeking work in West Orange and the surrounding district of equal employment opportunities and otherwise adversely affect their status as applicants for employment because of their race," Cooper wrote.

The EEOC alleges that the employment practices of Sally Beauty were intentional and "done with malice or reckless indifference to the federally protected rights of Ms. Spears and other applicants for jobs at Sally Beauty stores."

The Commission is asking the court for a permanent injunction against Sally Beauty from engaging in any employment practice which discriminates on the basis of race.

EEOC is also asking that Sally Beauty institute and carry out policies that provide equal employment opportunities for applicants and employees regardless of race to eradicate the effects of its past and present unlawful employment practices.

On Spears' behalf, the EEOC is asking that the court order Sally Beauty to provide appropriate backpay and compensation for pecuniary loss including the money she has spent searching for another job, rightful place hiring of Spears or alternatively frontpay.

It is also seeking compensation for emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss and other affirmative relief necessary to eradicate the effects of Sally Beauty's unlawful employment practices.

The EEOC is also asking the court to order Sally Beauty to pay punitive damages, in amounts to be determined at trial, for its "malicious and reckless conduct."

In addition to General Counsel Ronald Cooper and other counsel from Washington, D.C., the EEOC is also represented by Timothy M Bowne, senior trial attorney for the Houston office of the EEOC.

The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Ron Clark.

Case No. 1:07-cv-00644-RHC

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