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EEOC says DSW fired Warrensville Heights store manager because she is black

September 27, 2018

EEOC says DSW fired Warrensville Heights store manager because she is black

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has accused DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse, a chain of shoe stores with headquarters in Columbus, of discriminating against a former assistant manager at a location in Warrensville Heights because she is black.

A lawsuit filed in federal court in Columbus Wednesday says the woman, who worked as an assistant manager at a DSW location on Richmond Road from August 2014 until her firing in July 2016, was subject to unequal treatment. It says non-black employees were also accused of similar problems at work but they were not similarly disciplined.

Part of the woman’s job was to recruit and hire employees, and the lawsuit says DSW concluded there were too many black people who worked at the Warrensville Heights store. The company suggested that she “engage in recruiting and hiring practices that would result in a workforce made up of fewer black workers,” the lawsuit states.

While she worked there, she received performance evaluations that said she met the company’s expectations of her.

However, store officials told the woman that an incident on July 3, 2016 warranted discipline. The company did not suspend her or remove her as assistant manager, but instead fired her 17 days later, the suit states.

The company “replaced her with a person outside her protected class.” When asked for clarification, EEOC senior trial attorney Melanie Peterson would only say the woman’s replacement was “not black.”

The former assistant manager filed an EEOC complaint, and the EEOC sent a letter to DSW in December that said it found reasonable cause to believe the company had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which bars employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

The EEOC invited DSW to informally settle the complaint, but DSW chose not to do so, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks an unnamed amount in backpay and damages for the woman, as well as an injunction to prevent future race discrimination.

DSW spokeswoman Margaret Standing said in an email that the company does not comment on ongoing legal matters.

Click here to read the lawsuit on a mobile device.

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