Two Cases Varying In Features but Reminiscent Of Common Human Rights Abuses

Recently there has been a lot of media coverage on the lawsuits against Dollar General, Inc. According to The Birmingham Business Journal, Dollar General employs about twenty-five thousand people. The employees at this store are predominantly Black and Hispanic. Additionally, this store is one of the few retail stores in the Birmingham, Alabama area to be opened in predominantly Black communities.

Two lawsuits were filed against Dollar General.

One lawsuit involves an African American employee who claims that he was fired from his job at dollar general due to his inability to meet drug requirements. According to The Birmingham Business Journal, this employee performed well in the department of motor vehicles department and “was promoted shortly thereafter.” However, three months later, he was fired after failing a drug test.

Another lawsuit was filed against Dollar General, Inc.

This suit was filed by an African American woman who claims her former boss, Richard Berry, made illegal and unlawful racial discrimination when he placed her on the No More Team, a specialized force comprised of special recruits that did criminal background checks on all of his employees. Berry is alleged to have told his then-employee Darla Taylor, “If you don’t get on this team you don’t get your job back,” and that if she didn’t make it on the team “you better find somebody to do the [expletive] job for you because I don’t want to deal with no black woman anymore.” The woman further claims that Berry repeatedly called her n-word and other anti-black epithets. Eventually, the EEOC, which is currently looking into these lawsuits, got involved and found evidence that Berry used inappropriate language in his workplace.

In a related case, Alabama State Attorney General Lutherville claimed that Dollar General owed compensation to over one hundred employees who were wrongfully terminated from their jobs after the company ignored a Title VII complaint by one of its sales associates.

According to the complaint, James Berry allegedly told one of the store’s sales associates, “If you don’t go on that team, you don’t get your job back.” Additionally, Berry allegedly told another associate, “If you don’t work here anymore, you might end up having to kill your wife and kids.” These are only a few of the more offensive comments made by Berry toward his employees. As you might expect, a Title VII charge of employer retaliation caused one Dollar General’s franchisees to bring Title VII lawsuits against the company, and the State Attorney General is currently pursuing similar cases in Wisconsin and Maryland.

The State of Mississippi is the second state to find liability in the lawsuit.

Earlier this month, the US Department of Justice filed two lawsuits against a former Dollar General manager for failing to take proper steps to uncover prior criminal history of an applicant who was hired as a cashier. The former manager, Roberterence Williams, was fired in 2021 after he was charged with felony theft, grand theft auto and first-degree burglary. One week later, according to the complaint, Williams failed to disclose that he had previously been arrested on suspicion of stealing at least one automobile while working as a cashier at a Dollar General store in Mississippi. When questioned by FBI agents, Williams reportedly said that he did not have criminal background check policies in place at the time and did not know that such policies were needed.

Other lawsuits in Mississippi include a case brought by an individual who was wrongfully accused of rape in a restroom facility.

Another involves an individual who was wrongfully accused of molestation. No charges were ever filed against this individual. He was forced to undergo an individualized assessment by the jail after being subjected to hours of pepper spray misting by guards in the jail.

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