Hair Salon Fired Employees for Complaining About Race Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges
WILMINGTON, N.C. - Regis Corporation, doing business as Smart Style Family Hair Salon, a Minnesota-based company that operates a chain of hair salons, will pay a total of $90,000 and provide substantial injunctive relief to settle retaliation discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
Hope Hunt and Annie Mae Locklear worked as hair stylists at the company's salon in Pembroke, N.C. According to EEOC's suit, in June 2014, Hunt and Locklear were told by the soon-to-be salon manager that she did not want African-Americans working in the salon. In July 2014, Hunt and Locklear told an African-American candidate for an open position in the salon that they believed the manager did not want to hire her because of her race. On or around Aug. 14, the company fired Hunt and Locklear, claiming that they had lied when they told the black candidate she was not hired for that reason. EEOC contends Hunt and Locklear were discharged because they opposed what they reasonably believed to be an unlawful employment practice.
Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes it illegal to retaliate against an employee who complains about discrimination. EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Southern Division (EEOC v. Regis Corporation d/b/a Smart Style Family Hair Salon, Civil Action No. 7:15-CV-00151-F) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through the agency's conciliation process.
In addition to providing monetary relief to Hunt and Locklear, the company entered into a two-year consent decree requiring it to provide training on retaliation to all supervisors, managers, and employees at its North Carolina and South Carolina salons. The company must also report the action it takes in response to any employee's complaint about discrimination. The company will also post a notice to employees concerning their rights under the federal anti-discrimination laws EEOC enforces.
"Punishing employees who oppose discriminatory employment practices violates federal law and only makes a bad situation worse," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "We are pleased that Regis Corporation has agreed to provide training to its supervisors and managers as part of its efforts to ensure that such retaliation does not occur in its workplace in the future."
EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws against employment discrimination. Further information is available at www.eeoc.gov.