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Ralphs' Employee Sues for Racial Discrimination, Harassment and Wrongful Termination

October 18, 2010

Our Orange County employment lawyers at Howard Law, PC, are currently representing a female employee in a racial discrimination lawsuit against her former employer, Ralphs Grocery Company. The plaintiff has filed a complaint against the company for racial harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination.

Prior to her termination, the plaintiff had been an employee of Ralphs since the mid-1980's, receiving high performance reviews for her work. In 2007, the plaintiff began working in Val Verde, California, as the manager of store's bakery department, where she also received high performance reviews--the most recent coming days before her abrupt wrongful termination.

According to the complaint, in June of 2009, a misunderstanding occurred in the bakery department, with an accidental donation of old bakery items to charity that had a resale value of less than $10. At Ralphs, unsold bakery items are marked down and placed on a rack, for a one-day sale period. If they don't sell, they are scanned as "stales," and can be donated to charities. When the plaintiff's husband came to pick up old bakery items for charity donation, the plaintiff reminded a colleague to properly scan the items. The colleague reportedly first scanned the items to the mark down rack, and then immediately scanned them again as "stales," before handing them to the plaintiff's husband.

The California plaintiff's employment was terminated by the Ralphs' store manager and the HR manager over the incident, without a thorough investigation into the facts, claiming that the plaintiff caused her colleague to donate the old bakery items, instead of placing the items on the markdown rack for a one day sale. The plaintiff believes that Ralphs' true motive for termination is due to her race--as she is African American.

According to the California plaintiff, white employees who have been accused of similar errors while working at Ralphs were not immediately terminated, but merely reprimanded. In one instance, when an employee was caught on camera donating food from the Service Deli to homeless people, she was merely warned by the store manager.

Throughout over twenty years of employment with Ralphs, the plaintiff claims to have been subjected to and witnessed racial discrimination and harassment in the workplace, that increased after her transfer to the Val Verde, California store. The plaintiff claims that Caucasian employees were regularly excused from working holiday weekends, while African American employees were required to work. The store manager also reportedly refused to provide sufficient staff to the African American managers--only giving Caucasians managers staff support.

In another incident from 2007, the plaintiff complained about an offensive racial slur that was drawn by an employee in the bathroom. Instead of being terminated, the offending employee was transferred to another store, and promoted to the position of full time checker--a position that the plaintiff had been striving for within the company, but was consistently denied.

The plaintiff believes that because of her complaints about harassment, racial discrimination, and unlawful acts in the workplace, her employment was terminated out of retaliation--violating California laws--and causing the plaintiff injury in the scope of her employment with Ralphs. The plaintiff has suffered severe emotional distress, substantial loss of salary, prevailing wages, and other employment benefits that she would have received as an employee of Ralphs.

Ralphs is being accused of violating the Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA) and the California Constitution by subjecting the plaintiff to racial harassment, racial discrimination and retaliation, for violating the FEHA by failing to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

The plaintiff is asking for compensatory and punitive damages as allowed by state law, for injunctive relief to stop Ralphs from engaging in this kind of unlawful practice in the future, for all costs incurred in this suit, and for civil penalties as allowed by law.

Our attorneys at Howard Law, PC are committed to representing individuals who have experienced harassment, discrimination and retaliation based on race, as well as wrongful termination in Orange County. Contact our Anaheim-based labor and employment attorneys today, for a free consultation about your rights.

Discrimination and Harassment in Employment are Prohibited by Law, Department of Fair Employment and Housing, (DFEH)

Discrimination is Against the Law, Department of Fair Employment and Housing, (DFEH)

Related Web Resources:

The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)

Howard Law, PC