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Major sporting goods retailer sued for racial harassment

One of the biggest sporting goods retailers in California and across the western part of the country is facing a lawsuit alleging racial harassment. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has accused Big 5 Sporting Goods of allowing racial harassment and retaliatory discipline against a Black employee training to become a manager.

The lawsuit is based on events that took place at a store in Washington state, where the sole African-American employee was allegedly called multiple racial slurs and threatened. Despite reports by the harassment victim, there was no action by higher managers in the company, and the victim was faced with yet more harassment and retaliation on the job for reporting the events.

The lawsuit also includes a threat to lynch the victim, referencing a long history of racial violence directed against African-Americans in the United States. He was also denied breaks, disciplined without reason and given an increasing workload. The victim also said that he became afraid to leave his home as a result of the constant harassment.

The EEOC filed the lawsuit after it failed to achieve a settlement through its process for conciliation. The federal agency is seeking monetary compensation for the victim as well as the issuance of an injunction to prevent further acts of racial harassment at the store.

Discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, disability and other protected characteristics can take the form of violent threats, racial slurs and harassment. The case also highlights the fact that companies cannot legally retaliate against people who report harassment and discrimination.

An employment lawyer can help victims of racial or gender discrimination to seek justice. An attorney can review a case, provide guidance in dealing with federal agencies or move forward with a cause of action to pursue compensation or other forms of relief.

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