Company must hire a diversity director, and boost recruitment efforts.
Bass Pro Outdoor World LLC agreed to pay $10.5 million and bolster its efforts to hire a more diverse workforce at its retail stores that sell fishing, camping and hunting equipment, following a complaint brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The nationwide settlement, ending a long-running employment discrimination case, comes with more than a hefty price tag.
The resolution imposes certain conditions on the Missouri-based retailer to comply and improve its practices for hiring Hispanic and African-American workers at its stores around the country, according to a consent decree filed in Houston federal district court.
The EEOC filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against the retailer in 2011, charging that the company discriminated in hiring at its stores, unlawfully retaliated against employees who opposed these practices and failed to adhere to federal record-keeping laws and regulations.
The complaint claimed that since 2005, qualified black and Hispanic workers were denied positions at Bass Pro Stores. In Texas and Louisiana locations, the store managers were accused of making racially derogatory remarks. The investigation found classwide hiring discrimination and evidence of retaliation. The settlement outlines which claimants, denied employment at Bass Pro, could be eligible for compensation.
In a statement Thursday, Bass Pro Shop said the agreement did not substantiate the EEOC’s allegations of discrimination against the company’s founder, John Morris. The company did not admit to violating any laws. The company said it is “fully committed to the expansion of its ongoing efforts to attract a more diverse workforce.”
A lawyer for Bass Pro, King & Spalding partner Michael Johnston in Atlanta, was not reached for comment.
Here are key provisions that Bass Pro Shop was tasked with implementing as part of the settlement.
Bass Pro must boost its recruitment efforts.
As part of an effort to increase employee diversity, the retailer will be required to actively recruit qualified black and Hispanic applicants. Some of these efforts will include reaching out to colleges, universities and community colleges identified by the EEOC with significant minority populations to post openings, participate in job fairs and post job openings in publications that circulate in Spanish and on websites directed at the Hispanic community.
The deal requires Bass Pro to ramp up employee training.
Both managers and nonmanagers will be trained in diversity efforts. An annual training will be required for all nonmanagement employees, to inform the workers about Title VII prohibition on discrimination based on race and national original. The managers will attend a separate session to cover these issues. An outside trainer approved by the EEOC, but paid for by Bass Pro Shop, will conduct the trainings.
Bass Pro must hire a diversity director.
In order to ensure implementation of the initiatives, Bass Pro will establish an Office of Diversity and Inclusion and hire a diversity director to oversee the department. This new position will be tasked with executing the EEOC agreement and the inclusion efforts throughout the company. The director can be hired from within the company or outside but must have at least five years of experience in areas of human resources or equal-employment work, and a four-year college degree and at least 120 hours of coursework and training in the appropriate areas.
And the company needs to be open about its policies.
On its website, Bass Pro must develop a diversity inclusion section for posting and discussing job opportunities. A written description of hiring procedures will be disclosed to all applicants and have in place a job-related hiring criteria to prohibit discriminatory hiring decisions. The company will also develop and implement a complaint process to be incorporated into the employment application. An internal complaint procedure will also be established. These efforts will be part of a requirement to review policies at the company against discrimination and retaliation.