EEOC Files Lawsuit Against Walgreens for Race Discrimination

The EEOC has announced the filing of a class action discrimination lawsuit against Walgreen Company alleging the Illinois-based national drugstore chain engaged in widespread racial bias against thousands of African-American employees.

The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, alleges that Walgreens assigns managers, management trainees, and pharmacists to low-performing stores and to stores in African American communities because of their race. The EEOC also alleges that Walgreens denies these managers and professionals promotional opportunities based on race.

The EEOC’s St. Louis and Miami district offices investigated Walgreens' actions after more than 20 current and former employees from around the country complained to them. A group of current and former African American managers had filed a private lawsuit making similar allegations in 2005. This lawsuit is currently pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, and the plaintiffs have asked the court to certify it as a class action.

EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp commented in the agency’s press release that the lawsuit demonstrates the Commission’s focus on systemic cases as a weapon to address obvious as well as subtle forms of race discrimination.

The EEOC has recently launched its E-RACE (Eradicating Racism and Colorism from Employment) initiative designed to bring a 21st century approach to combating racism.

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