B & H Foto Agrees to Pay $4.3 Million to Hispanic Workers

Judge Harold Baer of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York gave final approval to a sweeping consent decree between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and B & H Foto and Electronics Corp. (B & H), the federal agency. The decree resolves a national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC on behalf of 149 Hispanic warehouse workers at one of the largest retail sellers of photographic, computer and electronic equipment in the New York metropolitan area.

EEOC's lawsuit, filed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, alleged that B & H paid Hispanics in its warehouses in Manhattan and Brooklyn less than non-Hispanic workers and failed to promote them or provide health benefits because of their national origin (EEOC v. B & H Foto and Electronics Corp., No. 07 CV-9241). Under the court-approved consent decree, B & H agreed to cooperate with the EEOC in a claims process to distribute $4.3 million in monetary relief to 149 employees who were paid less, not promoted, or denied benefits because they are Hispanic.

"Employers should be well aware by now that discriminating against workers because of their country of origin or ethnic background is unlawful and will not be tolerated," said Stuart J. Ishimaru, EEOC acting chairman. "Employers face significant liability if they fail to comply with federal employment discrimination laws."

In addition to the multi-million dollar settlement fund, the consent decree contains injunctive relief requiring B & H to equalize the wages of Hispanic employees to their non-Hispanic coworkers, conduct employer training, adopt an anti-discrimination policy, post EEOC notices, report to EEOC, and to be monitored by EEOC for the next five years.

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