A U.S. District Court judge has approved a two-year consent decree that includes a $900,000 payment in the racial discrimination lawsuit filed last week by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Dillard's Inc. of Little Rock.
The lawsuit alleged that the publicly traded department store chain (NYSE: DDS) didn't promote Black workers to managerial or supervisory positions because of their race and doesn’t recruit Black college students into its Little Rock Buyers Program, an executive development program.
According to the decree, Dillard's still denies all discrimination allegations, which date back to a 2011 investigation Arkansas Business covered in 2016. But it consented to the agreement, which resolves all claims and discrimination charges in the lawsuit.
The decree, approved yesterday by U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky, says the $900,000 goes to the full and final settlement of the EEOC's claims on behalf of the charging parties and class members.
More: See the consent decree here.
The retailer also agreed to:
- Not discriminate based on race when promoting employees;
- Not retaliate against any employee involved in the case;
- Develop a written promotion policy within 60 days of the decree (the lawsuit alleged that Dillard's doesn't have a written policy);
- Post that policy at each retail store within 45 days of the policy being developed;
- Post job vacancies in stores (the lawsuit also alleged the Dillard's doesn't do that);
- Contact one or more historically black colleges when recruiting students for its buyers program;
- Set up an email and anonymous hotline it will use to investigate discrimination complaints from employees;
- Conduct anti-discrimination training with store managers within 100 days of the decree and submit a report on that training to the EOCC; and
- Conduct refresher training in the second year of the decree.
When Arkansas Business reported on the EEOC's lawsuit last week, a Dillard's spokeswoman said it had settled with the EEOC and was awaiting a judge's approval.
In the lawsuit, nine individuals were representing a class of current and former employees. They were or are employed at Dillard's stores in Little Rock; North Little Rock; Montgomery, Alabama; St. Petersburg, Florida; Newman, Georgia; Cedar Hill, Texas; Biloxi, Mississippi; and Metairie, Louisiana.