Lawsuit accuses Best Buy of discrimination

  • Article by: MARISSA EVANS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 28, 2011 - 10:26 PM

The latest suit, a week after the company settled a class action, involves a company antifraud policy.

A week after reaching a $10 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit brought by women and minority workers, Best Buy Co. Inc. is facing another round of accusations over discriminatory practices in the workplace.

Majeed "Todd" Abed, a Muslim Arab, sued his former employer Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria, Va., claiming he was repeatedly overlooked for promotions and fired from his 13-year career at Best Buy for refusing to follow the company's "Be On the Look Out" policy, according to the 17 page-lawsuit.

The policy was meant to tell employees which customers appeared likely to shoplift, do fraudulent credit card transactions or other illegal activity, the lawsuit said. Abed, who had received company awards for his work, claims that employees circulated e-mails among managers in the region containing images and descriptions of customers supposedly suspected of theft to be posted in their respective stores. The e-mails "identified customers as suspicious based on nothing more than bare descriptions such as 'bearded Middle Eastern guy who looked shady' or 'black ghetto guy,'" the lawsuit said.

Abed thought the policy was discriminatory against minority customers and encouraged racial profiling. He refused to post the images and descriptions in his store, according to the lawsuit. After a district manager asked why he wasn't following the policy, he told her of his concerns, the lawsuit said.

A Best Buy spokeswoman declined to comment on the new lawsuit.

In addition, the lawsuit claims Abed was harassed by a supervisor because of his religion.

The case comes just a week after the Richfield-based electronics chain settled a class-action suit in Oakland, Calif., that charged women and minorities were overlooked for promotions and discriminated against for job placements. The suit was filed in 2005 by nine current and former Best Buy workers.

According to that original complaint, more than 75 percent of Best Buy general managers are Caucasian men and fewer than 10 percent are women. Fewer than 20 percent are minorities.

Marissa Evans • 612-673-4211

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