Lawsuit accuses Missouri Apple Store of race, gender discrimination

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
A new lawsuit takes aim at Apple and one of its senior retail store managers, accusing them of refusing to promote an employee because she is a black woman.



The case stems from the Apple retail store located at the St. Louis Galleria in St. Louis, Mo. Plaintiff Barbara J. DuBose has accused Apple and the senior store manager of its St. Louis location, Robert Proffer, of race and gender discrimination and retaliation.



DuBose was a part-time employee at the retail store who expressed interest in working full-time. She claims that she was told by her manager that she needed to work on things like her composure, this despite allegedly receiving high marks in a review.



In her complaint, she alleges that she applied for full-time positions was denied, even as other new hires were brought into the St. Louis store. It is claimed that in late 2010, the store had more than 100 workers and only eight of them black, and two of those eight full-time workers.



"I've been part-time at Apple for three years and there has never been a minority to be promoted to any higher paying position," DuBose wrote in the complaint, written in the first person.



DuBose alleges that in December of 2010 in a meeting with her manager she was told that she did not receive promotions because she created a "hostile work environment," and that several workers at the store were "upset" with her. Subsequent hires were either mostly or all white males, she claims.



DuBose filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which included an e-mail with the subject "Thug-Life" that contained a photo of her manager wearing a "STL cap" She said she was "highly offended" by this picture.



She has argued that her race was a "contributing factor" in the case. As further evidence she claims the few black full-time workers at the store are all "lighter skinned African-Americans."



"I've never seen a darker skinned African American get promoted in our store nor have I ever seen an African-American or minority hold a managerial position for that matter," she wrote. "I've worked at the store for the past three and a half years and I have never seen a minority promoted or hold a managerial position since my time at the store."



DuBose received a right-to-sue letter from the Missouri Commission on Human Rights earlier this year. She filed a formal complaint against Apple and Proffer in May.







Apple responded to the claims in its own filing last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. In that filing, it is admitted that DuBose received a positive employee review with a score of four out of five, but also that the manager warned DuBose that she needed to work on keeping her composure with difficult customers.



"Defendants admit that there are approximately 104 employees at the Apple Galleria store and approximately 8 of these individuals classify themselves as African American," Apple's response reads. "Defendants further admit that two of these individuals are full time."



Most of the remaining allegations from DuBose were denied by the defendants, including her claim that she was "one of the highest selling specialist(s)" in the region.



As a major retailer in the U.S., Apple has been hit with a number of discrimination claims in court. One lawsuit filed in May alleged that employee's at Apple's store on the Upper West Side of New York City told two black men they were not welcome there.



Last December, one lawsuit came out of Apple's SoHo store in New York, accusing employees of discriminating against an employee after she took a medical leave of absence due to a nervous disorder. That same month, a man in his 60s accused Apple of age discrimination at a store in Orlando, Fla.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 122
    myapplelovemyapplelove Posts: 1,515member
    rubbish...
  • Reply 2 of 122
    gmcalpingmcalpin Posts: 266member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by myapplelove View Post


    rubbish...



    And you know this… how?



    This stuff happens in retail all the time. It's not indicative of the company as a whole; it's almost always the store manager's biases. Most of the time, I don't even think it's conscious.



    It's worth noting that St. Louis has slightly more black people than white people. (http://www.city-data.com/city/St.-Louis-Missouri.html) So only 8% of your staff be black in St. Louis seems a bit off.
  • Reply 3 of 122
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member
    Perception is reality folks - if she THINKS she was discriminated against then she was - at least in her own mind - proving it in court is another matter entirely.



    What good are the numbers of how many of each race is employed? do they have statistics on how many applicants of any given race applied?



    And why is it that those of us who are not minorities (although if you go back a few generations I'm sure I could come up with something) are expected to not have any bias etc - but the instant there is any perceived slight difference then those in the minority insist that it is a race issue of the highest order?



    Many years ago I was explaining to a customer a standard procedure we had to follow that was causing a delay in processing her order - and she blew up in my face going on about how because she was black I was accusing her of fraud or some such - I was so shocked I was not sure what to say - I in no way shape or form had even considered her or anything about her as having anything whatsoever to do with the fact that we had a procedure that we followed in such cases for EVERY single customer regardless of race, religion, age, sex, etc etc.



    more recently I had a boss who ran into a similar situation with reviews - where he always tried to give his direct reports the benefit of the doubt and only put positive things on their reviews - but then after having to explain to HR why he had to let an employee go despite consistently good reviews he has revised his policy on what information should be included in reviews, especially when there is a clear pattern. then he can use that documented process to clearly demonstrate a pattern.



    of course the employee (especially the delusional ones) can claim that the supervisor was not accurately or fairly preparing the reviews.
  • Reply 4 of 122
    bigmac2bigmac2 Posts: 639member
    If you do your job right you will be well treated, do it wrong and you have only your self to blame. I don't know St-Louis demography black vs white %, but if its around 10-20%, her Apple Store got the right ratio.



    But what puzzle me even more is the fact that she made distinction between her situation and others lighter skinned African American. She look like to be the one who made race discrimination here.
  • Reply 5 of 122
    mrstepmrstep Posts: 459member
    OK, what in the hell is a 'STL cap' or 'thug life', and how are those offensive?



    FTL, now that I would understand. STL not so much...
  • Reply 6 of 122
    gmcalpingmcalpin Posts: 266member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BigMac2 View Post


    If you do your job right you will be well treated, do it wrong and you have only your self to blame. I don't know St-Louis demography black vs white %, but if its around 10-20%, her Apple Store got the right ratio.



    But what puzzle me even more is the fact that she made distinction between her situation and others lighter skinned African American. She look like to be the one who made race discrimination here.



    I posted a link to it. It's 47% black, 45% white. So Apple's 8% ratio is way off.



    And whites very often find light-skinned blacks less intimidating or threatening than dark-skinned blacks, and lighter-skinned blacks are often considered more beautiful by whites, because they have "whiter" features. That's not puzzling or surprising if you've ever actually worked with or talked with black people? or any minorities, really? about this subject.
  • Reply 7 of 122
    St Louis is interesting because the city and surrounding county have much different demographics. St Louis County reports 23.3% black (according to the 2010 census) while St Louis City County reports 49.2% black (also 2010 census). The St Louis Galleria store is in Brentwood, MO, which is a smallish town with 1.8% black (census) but it's a typical inner suburb which is very close to other suburbs, so the potential work force can be drawn from all over. It's also close to a light rail station, so it's fairly convenient to a lot of people.



    So I'd agree that 1/8 seems pretty low. On the other hand, I don't know the usual pool of applicants for those jobs, or the racial demographics of potentially qualified applicants. (For that matter, I don't even know what the qualifications are for work there.) So I wouldn't assume the facts of her case one way or the other.
  • Reply 8 of 122
    oc4theooc4theo Posts: 294member
    This fool should be happy she has a job. In a declining economy with over 30 million people looking for work, any person who has a job should be grateful to the employer. If you don't like it, quit.



    There are other ways to get a promotion and advancement in a work place, other than checking to see how many of your skin color types are present.



    Obama is the president. How many black people out of the reported 453 employees in the white house are blacks? Less than 7 percent. Is any of them suing? Hell, no.



    Apple should start letting employees sign an Arbitration Waiver like Walmart. Working at an Apple store is more than a retail job, you are getting an education for your future. Be grateful!
  • Reply 9 of 122
    I've shopped at this store regularly since 2006, and have a pretty good idea who this plaintiff is. If I do, her inability to deal with difficult customers is not the only reason she would've been passed up.



    Most of the staff as a whole has been fantastic and I've worked with Proffer a few times (concerning exchanges of defective MacBooks and in the course of spending almost $10,000 there). I've never detected any issues with racial bias there, and this is from someone who is at that store at least once a month. The court can dig into the nitty gritty, but my guess is that this is a severe overreach from someone creating an excuse to justify her lack of performance.
  • Reply 10 of 122
    applezillaapplezilla Posts: 941member
    I'm not going to judge this particular case, but I do know for a fact that Missouri is hardly an 'enlightened' state. And has become even less so over the last few years.



    It's like Mississippi is expanding Northward.
  • Reply 11 of 122
    Being black myself, I see a lot of black people throw the race card into everything. As my mother used to say, look for anything long enough and you'll find it...or invent it
  • Reply 12 of 122
    ALL hires at the stores should be technically able to handle the job first and foremost. Gender and race should not be applicable... Plus having a passion for the product, it is part of the culture... Apple customers expect a certain level of technical ability, and they want the experience, passion gives the experience....
  • Reply 13 of 122
    autism10autism10 Posts: 8member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post


    And why is it that those of us who are not minorities (although if you go back a few generations I'm sure I could come up with something) are expected to not have any bias etc - but the instant there is any perceived slight difference then those in the minority insist that it is a race issue of the highest order?



    Thank you! That's what I've always thought. I'm a minority myself too (Mexican) but there are way too many people who readily shout "discrimination!" without even bothering to come up with anything else. Who's being racist here?



    Dealing with difficult customers is extremely important. A lot of Apple Store customers are not knowledgeable at all, and though it can be frustrating to explain the most basic of things this woman has to keep in mind that NO ONE likes a rude/inpatient salesperson. If you can't realize that or are not ready to accept that, maybe you shouldn't work there at all.



    Perceived racism is not an excuse for underperformance. Ever.
  • Reply 14 of 122
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,369member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gmcalpin View Post


    And you know this? how?



    You seem to be equally sure in the opposite direction.

    Quote:

    This stuff happens in retail all the time. It's not indicative of the company as a whole; it's almost always the store manager's biases. Most of the time, I don't even think it's conscious.



    Not at all. Rather what you end up with is people bringing in their street attitude and disregard for other people and then expecting to succeed simply because they are there. If nothing else many people have an unreasonable expectation as to how they can behave in a setting that interfaces to the public.

    Quote:

    It's worth noting that St. Louis has slightly more black people than white people. (http://www.city-data.com/city/St.-Louis-Missouri.html) So only 8% of your staff be black in St. Louis seems a bit off.



    What does that have to do with anything? How may of those people are Mac Owners or have a serious interest in things Apple. Mores so how many of those people actually apply for jobs at the Apple store.



    in the end I already have an opinion and frankly rubbish is a pretty good description.
  • Reply 15 of 122
    jbrunijbruni Posts: 29member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mrstep View Post


    OK, what in the hell is a 'STL cap' or 'thug life', and how are those offensive?



    FTL, now that I would understand. STL not so much...



    St. Louis Cardinals baseball hat.
  • Reply 16 of 122
    prof. peabodyprof. peabody Posts: 2,860member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gmcalpin View Post


    I posted a link to it. It's 47% black, 45% white. So Apple's 8% ratio is way off.



    And whites very often find light-skinned blacks less intimidating or threatening than dark-skinned blacks, and lighter-skinned blacks are often considered more beautiful by whites, because they have "whiter" features. That's not puzzling or surprising if you've ever actually worked with or talked with black people? or any minorities, really? about this subject.



    Yeah, it sounds pretty damning on the face of it. The fact that we are talking misogyny here as well as racism kind of makes it seem more likely she is telling the truth IMO.



    As a side note, (relating to what you say above), it's also a fact that blacks on average find the lighter skinned blacks "more attractive" as well. The same is true in India. The lighter brown people are considered more attractive, the darker brown people are considered trash.



    Please note these are all generalisations. I just wanted to point out that "lighter is better" is a cultural problem not limited to white folks alone.
  • Reply 17 of 122
    buzzmegabuzzmega Posts: 66member
    Do they only sell white iPhones and iPads there?
  • Reply 18 of 122
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 13,369member
    I seems like every year somebody in the black community complains about the police issuing to many speeding tickets. the problem is if you live in a community that is mostly black then yeah it will look that way. However if you go to a different community you will likely see the same ticket writing going on. Why because people speed and without much effort you can catch people doing so just about anywhere.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post


    Perception is reality folks - if she THINKS she was discriminated against then she was - at least in her own mind - proving it in court is another matter entirely.



    That is why I think anybody complaining about any sort of discrimination should have to submit to a mental evaluation. Frankly there is a mental component to much of this.

    Quote:

    What good are the numbers of how many of each race is employed? do they have statistics on how many applicants of any given race applied?



    And why is it that those of us who are not minorities (although if you go back a few generations I'm sure I could come up with something) are expected to not have any bias etc - but the instant there is any perceived slight difference then those in the minority insist that it is a race issue of the highest order?



    Frankly - because we have a gullible and very left wing media that laps this stuff up.

    Quote:

    Many years ago I was explaining to a customer a standard procedure we had to follow that was causing a delay in processing her order - and she blew up in my face going on about how because she was black I was accusing her of fraud or some such - I was so shocked I was not sure what to say - I in no way shape or form had even considered her or anything about her as having anything whatsoever to do with the fact that we had a procedure that we followed in such cases for EVERY single customer regardless of race, religion, age, sex, etc etc.



    What is worst is that if you like your job there is little that you can do about these sorts of blow ups or melt downs.

    Quote:

    more recently I had a boss who ran into a similar situation with reviews - where he always tried to give his direct reports the benefit of the doubt and only put positive things on their reviews - but then after having to explain to HR why he had to let an employee go despite consistently good reviews he has revised his policy on what information should be included in reviews, especially when there is a clear pattern. then he can use that documented process to clearly demonstrate a pattern.



    of course the employee (especially the delusional ones) can claim that the supervisor was not accurately or fairly preparing the reviews.



    This is why there is a constant push to document everything in the work place. Unfortunately this often doesn't help matters any.
  • Reply 19 of 122
    aaarrrggghaaarrrgggh Posts: 1,607member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by alanshutko View Post


    St Louis is interesting because the city and surrounding county have much different demographics. St Louis County reports 23.3% black (according to the 2010 census) while St Louis City County reports 49.2% black (also 2010 census). The St Louis Galleria store is in Brentwood, MO, which is a smallish town with 1.8% black (census) but it's a typical inner suburb which is very close to other suburbs, so the potential work force can be drawn from all over. It's also close to a light rail station, so it's fairly convenient to a lot of people.



    So I'd agree that 1/8 seems pretty low. On the other hand, I don't know the usual pool of applicants for those jobs, or the racial demographics of potentially qualified applicants. (For that matter, I don't even know what the qualifications are for work there.) So I wouldn't assume the facts of her case one way or the other.



    Low, but not outrageously so. Other bordering communities are Clayton, Ladue, Webster Groves, and University City, all of which would be similar racial demographics to Brentwood, making the 8% seem a little low (15-20% would seem more reasonable). Clayton, Ladue, and U City are all affluent neighborhoods, and someone that does not deal well with aggressive customers would be doomed.
  • Reply 20 of 122
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,501member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by gmcalpin View Post


    And you know this? how?



    This stuff happens in retail all the time. It's not indicative of the company as a whole; it's almost always the store manager's biases. Most of the time, I don't even think it's conscious.



    It's worth noting that St. Louis has slightly more black people than white people. (http://www.city-data.com/city/St.-Louis-Missouri.html) So only 8% of your staff be black in St. Louis seems a bit off.



    I know this because the diversity across Apple's Campus is a true melting pot. They promote capability, professionalism, intelligence and talent in the position you hold and want to achieve.



    If only the rest of the US was as ethnically diverse as Apple we wouldn't have a Tea Party that is chalk full of fundamentalists, bigots, fanatics and shallow thinkers.
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