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EEOC Sues Dollar General for Race Discrimination and Retaliation

Retail Giant Rejected Black Employee for Promotion and  Retaliated Against Her for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged

JACKSON, Miss. - The  U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) announced today that it has filed a  lawsuit for race discrimination and retaliation against Dollar General Corporation,  asserting that it violated federal law when it denied a black lead sales  associate in a Long Beach, Miss., store a promotion to a vacant assistant store  manager position because of her race. The EEOC said the store also retaliated against her for complaining, and  filing a charge of discrimination with the EEOC.  

According to the EEOC's suit, Demetrice Hersey had been  working for Dollar General for almost three years, most recently as the lead  sales associate, when an assistant manager position became available three  separate times between 2009 and early 2010. Dollar General rejected Hersey's requests to be promoted with spurious  reasons, while hiring three less-qualified whites. After Hersey's complaints about the  discriminatory treatment and her later filing a race discrimination charge  with the EEOC, Dollar General began treating her in a demeaning and cruel  manner and issued a series of unwarranted performance actions against her.

Title  VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from using race as a  factor in making employment decisions and prohibits employers from retaliating  against employees who invoke the protections afforded by Title VII. The EEOC's lawsuit, filed on Sept. 25 in U.S.  District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi (EEOC v. Dollar General Corporation, Case No. 3:12-cv-0670-HTW-LRA),  seeks monetary damages, including back pay, compensatory and punitive damages,  and injunctive relief. The EEOC filed  suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its  conciliation process.

 "This lawsuit  should remind employers that the EEOC will take action when a company makes  hiring decisions based on the race of the applicants instead of on their  experience and qualifications," said C. Emanuel Smith, regional attorney for  the EEOC's Birmingham District Office.

Delner Franklin-Thomas, district director for the EEOC's  Birmingham District Office, added, "Some employers continue to allow race and  retaliation to invade their workplace decisions. Employers need to ensure their work forces  are properly trained in these areas, and held accountable if they violate the  law."

According to company information, Dollar General is the  nation's largest small-box discount retailer, and has almost 10,000 retail  stores in 38 states.

The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting  employment discrimination. The EEOC's  Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern  counties) and the Florida Panhandle. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at