Target Lawsuit Shows Importance of Racial Discrimination Investigations

Recently, three Hispanic former employees of Target, one of the nation’s largest retailers filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination and retaliation.

The complaint alleges that the three employees at a Target distribution center in Woodland, California were fired after they complained about members of management using racial slurs in the workplace.

Also mentioned in the lawsuit was a training document that managers created to help bridge the cultural gap between Hispanic laborers and Caucasian managers.

The training document included several negative stereotypes of Hispanics including “Food: not everyone eats tacos and burritos; Music: not everyone dances to salsa; Dress: not everyone wears a sombrero; Mexicans (lower education level, some may be undocumented.)”

A spokesperson for Target has already responded publicly, stating that Target doesn’t “tolerate or condone discrimination in any form” and has policies and procedures in place to prevent unfair treatment. These types of allegations are very frustrating for employers because all the policies and procedures in the world are useless if they are not actively monitored for compliance.

If the plaintiffs win the lawsuit, they will likely receive a large monetary settlement from Target. This doesn’t account for the reputational damage Target has already received in the media from this case.

For organizations as large as Target, it can be exceptionally difficult to create and maintain policies across its many stores, distribution centers and facilities. The upshot is that often, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

Even if Target immediately terminates the managers involved in using racial epithets, the have opened the door to every former and current employee who worked at that location to sue Target and go for the big bucks.

For this reason, we stress the importance of a Workplace Evaluation. As Experienced Private Investigators, we have the ability to place an Undercover Observer into your workforce. During this observation process, the observer has daily contact with employees and is exposed to potential areas of concern for the employer.  An undercover racial discrimination investigation may have prevented the lawsuit.

This often will cover employee theft, dishonesty, fraud and embezzlement but can also identify sexual harassment, hostile work environment and retaliatory practices involving management.

The objective of a Workplace Evaluation is not to develop the information needed to terminate and/or prosecute employees; this data is gathered to assist decision makers in reducing and preventing serious and otherwise expensive business problems.

We never want to say “We told you so”, but if Target had been proactive and made an effort to ensure its policies are being enforced at remote installations, they could have potentially corrected the problems alleged in the lawsuit without airing their dirty laundry in front of the media.

For additional information please contact Patricia A. Kotze, Managing Partner at Diversified Risk Management, Inc. Ms. Kotze can be reached at 800.810.9508 or by email at

Posted in Corporate Investigations, Investigations, Workplace and tagged , , , , .


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