The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said Monday it is suing two East Valley businesses for racial discrimination.
The government group said it filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix against Tempe-based Target Financial Services, the credit card operation for retail giant Target Stores. Also the agency filed a suit against Valleybased Apothecary Shops of Arizona.
The Target suit claims the East Valley operation refused to promote a black woman while giving less-qualified job applicants the better slots. She was employed at the company for more than five years, had a master’s degree in business and received good performance reviews, said David Lopez, EEOC trial attorney.
The company issued a statement denying the charges and saying it “is outraged by this baseless lawsuit. We are committed to diversity and have a zero tolerance for workplace discrimination.
“Target Financial Services has clear facts that contradict the EEOC’s claims. Ms. Shores at all times has been treated fairly by Target Financial Services without any regard to race. We will vigorously defend ourselves against these unfounded claims and have every confidence that we will prevail,” the statement said.
In a similar complaint, the EEOC alleged that Apothecary Shops of Arizona fired a black female pharmacy director at its Gilbert shop, replacing her with “a white male pharmacy director who had been previously disciplined by the Arizona State Pharmacy Board.”
John Musil, president of the Apothecary Shops of Arizona, declined to comment, saying he had not been served and knew nothing about the lawsuit.
The specialty pharmacy was founded in 1996 in Scottsdale as a single shop
preparing customized medications. It has grown in 10 years to 11 locations, five in the East Valley.
The government is seeking monetary compensation for the two women, which could include “back pay, punitive and compensatory damages and an end to any discriminatory practices,” said Mary Jo O’Neill, EEOC regional attorney.
“Recent studies in hiring, termination and promotions shows that racial discrimination persists,” O’Neill said.
“These cases involved discrimination against two women who, despite their success and education, were deprived of equal employment opportunity because of their race,” he said.
Chester Bailey, EEOC district director for Phoenix, said Arizona fares worse than the rest of the country in discrimination complaints.
“In 2005, approximately 34.5 percent of all charges filed with the EEOC in Arizona were race discrimination charges,” Bailey said in a prepared statement.
“This number is astounding given that only 3.5 percent of the population in Arizona is African American. Nationwide, 12.8 percent of the total population is African American, while 35.5 percent of our charges nationwide are race charges,” his statement said.