Marilyn Tennissen Jun. 26, 2008, 8:35am
An African American woman who said a West Orange beauty supplier denied her employment so it could meet its quota of white employees has received a settlement from a suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed on her behalf.
In a consent decree signed June 20, Sally Beauty Supply agreed to pay Felicia Spears $30,000 as compensation and agreed to train its management in fair hiring practices.
In September 2007, The Southeast Texas Record reported on the suit the EEOC filed on behalf of Spears in the Beaumont Division of the Eastern District of Texas.
The suit alleged Sally discriminated against Spears because of her race when the store revoked a job offer because managers had a policy of filling racial quotas when hiring.
Spears claimed that on Sept. 5, 2005, she applied for a job at Sally Beauty, after seeing a "Help Wanted" sign posted at the store.
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 alleged 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 suit was filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, enacted to correct unlawful employment discrimination on the basis of race.
According to the parties' consent decree, for 36 months following the decree's entry, the beauty supplier and its employees are enjoined from discriminating against any applicant based on their race.
Sally must also post non-discrimination notices in all its stores in the district, in locations "which are conspicuous and accessible to employees but not within view of store customers."
In addition, the decree orders all Sally district managers and store managers in the territory to attend "Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity in the Workplace" classroom training.
"The training shall include instruction that employees and applicants for employment cannot be treated differently because of their race in recruitment, job assignments, training, terminations and other terms and conditions of employment," the decree states.
The EEOC also requires that the training include instruction on the unlawfulness of hiring to meet customer preference or attempting to achieve racial quotas.
The defendant will provide EEOC copies of the attendance records for the training.
Other consequences outlined in the decree include a report of the racial background of any district managers hired or terminated in the past six months.
"For each occasion that a non-African American district manager is hired, defendant shall include in the report the names of all other candidates who were considered for the position, as well as an explanation why the chosen candidate was selected."
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.
U.S. District Judge Ron Clark presided over the case.
Case No. 1:07-cv-00644-RHC