In an article in the New York Daily News, Dennis Slattery Reports:
“B&H discriminated against Hispanic workers, refused to hire female, black and Asian applicants, lawsuit claims
The feds are looking to put the f-stop to alleged unfair labor practices at one of New York’s most iconic stores.
A discrimination lawsuit filed by the Department of Labor could cost Midtown photography giant B&H $46 million in federal contracts.
The complaint, filed late Wednesday with DOL’s Office of Administrative Law Judges, alleges the company harassed and discriminated against Hispanic workers at its Brooklyn warehouses.
If B&H loses the case, its federal contracts could be at risk, and it could be barred from winning new ones in the future.
The company currently has more than $46 million in contracts with just the FBI and the General Services Administration, according to the agency.
The suit claims white workers were paid more and promoted more often than Hispanics, and that the company “relegated Hispanic warehouse workers to separate, unsanitary and often inoperable restrooms” and directed “racist remarks, degrading comments and harassment” at employees.
The complaint also alleges that women, as well as black and Asian applicants, were not considered for entry-level positions.
The Department of Labor said it was unable to secure “a voluntary agreement from B&H to take corrective action.”
The lawsuit seeks to end the alleged practices and to compensate impacted workers.
B&H spokesman Henry Posner declined to comment due to the “unresolved ongoing legal matter.”
Earlier this week, workers in the basement warehouse of the company’s flagship retail store on 9th Ave. voted to join the United Steelworkers Union.
Warehouse workers in Brooklyn voted to join the same union in November.
B&H has faced intense criticism for its labor practices over the last decade and has been the subject of several discrimination lawsuits.
The company was fined $32,000 earlier this month by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for hazardous violation found at its Brooklyn warehouses.
In 2007, B&H had to pay $4.3 million to settle a discrimination claim by another group of Hispanic workers working in the firm’s Navy Yard warehouse.
B&H PHOTO DISCRIMINATED: HISPANIC EMPLOYEES
Part of that settlement requires the company to raise wages for Hispanic workers and to be monitored by federal authorities.
Yet, despite the monitoring, B&H was slapped with new round of lawsuits.
In 2009, a group of female workers sued the company, arguing they were paid less than male employees and were not promoted because of their gender.
B&H fired the lead plaintiff, but the suit was later dismissed.
In 2011, in the third suit in five years, the firm was hit by another multi-million dollar racial discrimination lawsuit, filed by two Latino workers, who claimed the company refused to promote them and that B&H was an “abusive work environment.””
Credit: New York Daily News