Menard Settles Class Action Discrimination Lawsuit

February 8th, 2012

A home-improvement retail giant has settled a $1 million class action lawsuit which began after several minority employees complained about discrimination.

Most people in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area are family with Menards. The company has 262 stores in 13 states in the Midwest. In 2004, several Menards employees complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that they were held back within the company because of their race.

The EEOC launched an investigation following the complaints. The investigation lasted several years, in which time investigators learned that 700 employees of Menards may have been discriminated against in a similar fashion. Their positions ranged from assistant department managers to store managers, and they were reportedly denied opportunities for job promotion.

The Eau Claire, Wisconsin, based company will pay $1 million in claims, and also change its processes for promoting employees in the future. The terms of the settlement do not call for Menards to admit wrongdoing.

It has not been reported how many Minnesota Menards’ employees and former employees will receive settlements. According to a news report, plaintiffs will receive letters in the mail this month that will explain how to file for their monetary award.

The announcement of the settlement came at about the same time that the EEOC released its new strategic plan, which calls for the agency to continue to focus on fighting systematic discrimination within the workplace.

Systemic discrimination refers to a “pattern, practice or policy of alleged discrimination and/or class cases where the alleged discrimination has a broad impact,” according to the EEOC’s draft of the plan.

The EEOC has been focused on fighting systemic discrimination since 2006, and in the past two years alone the EEOC received almost 100,000 discrimination complaints from the private sector. These numbers show us that discrimination is unfortunately still very much a part of many American workplaces.

Source: CBS, “Employees File Class Action Lawsuit Against Menards,” Bill Hudson, Feb. 7, 2012.

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