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Outdoor store facing race discrimination lawsuit

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a lawsuit Wednesday against an outdoor retail chain that alleges discriminatory employment practices. The EEOC accuses Bass Pro Shops of discriminating against black and Hispanic job applicants based on race. The lawsuit also accuses the company of retaliating against employees who spoke out against the race discrimination.

The lawsuit accuses managers of using racial epithets and ethnic epithets and of sharing these prejudicial thoughts on job applicants to human resource employees of the stores. The store denies any discrimination in hiring and says that the EEOC's lawsuit shows that the federal agency has stereotypes against outdoor and conservation enthusiasts as people who are intolerant of diversity rather than committed to it. The company and EEOC did not reach a settlement so the case will go to trial.

The EEOC wants an injunction against the company to stop all discriminatory employment practices. The agency is also seeking to "make whole" black and Hispanic job applicants, according to the Associated Press, by awarding back pay, reinstatement and in implementing fair hiring practices.

The EEOC is a federal agency that enforces federal anti-discrimination laws. Employers are barred from discriminating against job applicants or employees based on many protected factors such as race, ethnicity, sex and religion.

Employers also cannot discriminate against employees age 40 or older based on age and must provide reasonable accommodations for job applicants and employees with a disability. Employers cannot discriminate based on pregnancy and, in California and other states, state law says that employers cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Source: ABC News, "Outdoor Retailer Accused of Racial Discrimination," Associated Press, Sept. 22, 2011

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