Bass Pro Outdoor World, the sporting goods retailer with 82 stores, agreed to pay $10.5 million to settle a nationwide class-action case brought in Houston by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which accused the outdoor outfitter of rejecting qualified black and Hispanic job applicants and retaliating against employees who objected to the alleged practice. The money will go to compensate eligible black and Hispanic job seekers who were not hired, according to the agreement filed Monday in federal court in Houston. The proposed settlement has yet to be approved by U.S. District Court Judge Keith Ellison, who is overseeing the six-year-old case.
Total Retail's Take: If approved, the settlement would end the long government investigation into the hiring practices at Bass Pro. The EEOC analyzed Bass Pro's hiring data and found that black employees were underrepresented in more than 95 percent of the company's stores while Hispanic employees were underrepresented in more than 70 percent, according to court records. While Bass Pro maintains that it did not engage in any unlawful activities based on race or national origin nor in any retaliatory conduct, it is putting into place several programs to help attract a more diverse workforce. The retailer will establish a diversity office and find job candidates by participating in job fairs in minority communities and recruiting at colleges with significant minority populations. The settlement comes at a critical time for Bass Pro, as the company looks to complete its acquisition of rival Cabela's, which has been delayed due to FTC concerns.