Crazy Talk: Wet Seal's Blond-and-Blue Hiring?

A former manager and others in a lawsuit against the retailer say that it denied black employees opportunities.

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One of the former Wet Seal managers behind a racial-discrimination lawsuit against the retailer has spoken out about some of her experiences working there, Jezebel reports.

Nicole Cogdell, an African-American employee who was assigned to manage a new store at a high-end mall, says she once overheard company Vice President Barbara Bachman saying about her, "That's the store manager? I wanted someone with blond hair and blue eyes." She says she was fired shortly thereafter and replaced by a white woman.

And that's just part of a story that involves allegations of a storewide culture that not only insulted but also denied opportunities to black employees:

A key piece of evidence in the suit is an email sent by Bachman just after her visit to the King of Prussia store. In a litany of complaints about regional stores visual merchandizing, adherence to corporate directives, and organization, Bachman voiced this criticism:

Store Teams -- need diversity. African American dominate -- huge issue.

Bachman no longer works for Wet Seal, but Cogdell and her co-plaintiffs maintain that her attitude was indicative of a pervasive and mostly unspoken bias against black employees at the company. They say workers who happened to be black were denied promotions offered to comparably experienced and qualified whites and paid less than their white peers.

One of the first commenters on the Jezebel piece calls Wet Seal "trashy," and many would probably agree. But whether or not the clothes sold there hold up through more than two washes, it's a place like any other where people make a living -- and where skin, hair and eye color shouldn't get in the way. 

Read more at Jezebel.

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