Former Employee Sues Best Buy for Discrimination
Just a week after Best Buy Company, Inc., announced a proposed settlement in a 2005 class-action discrimination lawsuit, the retail giant was hit with another discrimination case.
A lawsuit was filed on June 24 in U.S. District Court in Virginia against the Richfield-based company by a former employee who alleges that he was denied promotions and fired after objecting to a company policy that he said was discriminatory.
According to court documents, Majeed “Todd” Abed, a Muslim of Arab descent, started working at Best Buy in 1996 and received several employee awards during his tenure. But he was allegedly fired in 2009 after he refused to take part in the company's “Be On the Look Out” (BOLO) program, which was aimed at identifying customers who appeared likely to shoplift, make fraudulent credit card purchases, or partake in other illegal activity.
The suit says that Abed believed that the racial profiling demonstrated through the BOLO program was offensive and illegal, and he decided not to post copies of company e-mails-which were distributed under the program-at store work stations. Those e-mails identified customers as suspicious based on “bare descriptions such as 'bearded Middle Eastern guy who looked shady' or 'black ghetto guy,'” the suit states.
Abed was questioned several times by his superiors as to why he was not participating in the program and each time he responded that he thought the program was “implemented in a discriminatory fashion,” according to court documents.
According to the lawsuit, Abed received a written warning in May 2009 for “unacceptable performance” and was fired in December 2009. The lawsuit also claims that Abed was taunted for his religion by his supervisor.
Abed is seeking a total of $1 million in damages and is asking that the court stop Best Buy from using the BOLO customer profiling program.
Abed's lawsuit comes just a week after Best Buy announced the settlement of a class-action discrimination lawsuit under which it will pay up to $10.2 million. The lawsuit was filed in 2005 in the Northern District of California by eight current and former employees of Best Buy and one person who applied for a job with the company. The nine plaintiffs alleged that Best Buy discriminates against women, African American, and Latino employees by denying them promotions and more lucrative sales positions.