About three years ago, Demetrice Hersey started working at a Dollar General store, first as a cashier then as a lead sales associate. Eager for more responsibility, the Mississippi resident applied to become an assistant store manager -- not once but three times.
But Hersey was turned down each time that the position became available from 2009 to early 2010, not because she was unqualified but because she's black, according to a lawsuit filed on her behalf by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (via the Sun Herald).
Dollar General instead promoted less-qualified white applicants into that position, the federal agency claims, noting that Hersey was the only black employee of the store, located in the Gulf Coast community of Long Beach.
Further, the EEOC alleges that store managers retaliated against Hersey for filing an employment-discrimination claim against the discount retailer, eventually leading to her dismissal in March 2011.
"Dollar General subjected Hersey to a progression of unwarranted disciplinary actions accompanied by a pattern of increasingly demeaning and cruel statements and conduct by the managers in authority at the store and in the district," the lawsuit says.
The EEOC lawsuit seeks reimbursement of lost wages and other compensation that it says Hersey is due. Further, the suit asks that Dollar General be ordered to institute policies that provide equal opportunities for black employees and to pay Hersey punitive damages for "malicious and reckless conduct."
Dollar General declined a request for comment about Hersey's case, telling AOL Jobs in an emailed response that the company doesn't discuss pending litigation.
In a separate matter, Dollar General warned investors last month that it could soon be the target of an EEOC lawsuit related to the company's use of criminal background checks, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (via the Nashville Business Journal).
The Goodlettsville, Tenn.-based chain was advised by the EEOC that the retailer's policy of conducting criminal checks during the hiring process may have an unfair effect on African-Americans and be in violation of the Civil Rights Act, the quarterly financial filing says.
Dollar General is also the target of an EEOC lawsuit filed last week on behalf of two Arkansas employees who allege that the manager of a store in Bull Shoals sexually harassed them, Arkansas Business reports.
Within weeks of his transfer to the Bull Shoals store, manager Wayne Motes allegedly started making sexually charged comments to Nancy Bohl, a part-time sales associate, according to the lawsuit.
"Mr. Motes continually stated he wanted to squeeze Ms. Bohl's breasts," the EEOC says.
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