According to dailymail.com, in March of 2009 a senior vice president of store operations allegedly sent out an email to subordinates after visiting 20 stores in the Maryland and Philadelphia area saying; ‘Store teams – need diversity/African American dominate – huge issue.’
Plaintiff Nicole Cogdell claims she was fired from her newly appointed manager position the same day the email was sent after overhearing the senior vie president saying she wanted a store manager with ‘blond hair and blue eyes.’
Cogdell claims that despite only being the store manager for two month she was replaced by a white employee who had less experience and was paid more. The lawsuit filed by Cogdell seeks class-action status on behalf of more than 250 current and former black managers at Wet Seal.
The lawsuit seeks punitive damages, back pay and benefits and other remedies.
“You have explicit directions from the very top of the company to terminate African-American managers,” said lawyer Brad Seligman, who is representing the plaintiffs.
“[Wet Seal] perceived that they would reach white markets better if they had more white managers.”
Wet Seal, which claims to be an equal opportunity employer with a diverse work force, released the following statement about the matter: “We deny any and all allegations of race discrimination and will vigorously defend the matter.”