Latest Discrimination Class Action Target: Best Buy (will Target be next target?)

Best Buy has become the latest “big box” retailer to fall victim to the race discrimination and sex discrimination class action craze, joining the likes of Wal-Mart and Walgreens.

Six former and current employees sued Best Buy Thursday, “alleging the company has purposefully excluded women and minorities from top-paying jobs as part of a sales culture catering to white men.”

The complaint seeks class action certification, and includes racial discrimination and gender discrimination in hiring practices, as well as promotion policies and decisions. “The complaint alleges Best Buy’s managers routinely ignore applications from people ‘who do not conform to the (company’s) young, white, male culture.'” (AP): “Best Buy accused of discrimination.”

This case raises some familiar issues:

  • Are hiring and promotion such different practices they should not be litigated together?
  • Does local decisionmaking weigh against class action certification?
  • What is the basis for and legal viability of a “discriminatory culture” claim?
  • Can the hiring and promotion decisions be tied to “particular employment practice(s) that cause a disparate impact” (quoting Title VII, as amended by CRA ’91)?

Best Buy’s website certainly suggests a nice diversity policy. One can mouse over the four employee models depicted in the “Career Center” and see four more (from home page, click “Careers” at bottom left under “Company Information”). Black female, Hispanic-ish female, black male, slightly masculine white geek female, white female, 3 white males.

Photo credit: DennisSylvesterHurd via flickr
Creative Commons License

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