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Tuesday, February 9, 2010
West Africans Scream Discrimination because Wal-Mart wants to hire U.S. Citizens
Wal-Mart, accusing it of a raft of discriminatory actions. Most say they were dismissed because supervisors wanted to give their jobs to local people in need of work. A spokesman, Greg Rossiter, said most of the men who had filed the complaints were part of a larger group of 90 employees of all different backgrounds dismissed last year after a management change at a store in Avon, Colo. “These allegations just don’t accurately reflect the working environment at these stores,” Mr. Rossiter said. “We have a diverse group of associates, including many from West Africa, who are finding good career opportunities.” In complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the 10 men said they had all worked for Wal-Mart for a few years, mostly without incident, at a variety of jobs at three stores in Avon, Glenwood Springs and Rifle. But things changed in 2008 and 2009, when new managers took over the stores, according to the complaints as well as interviews here with four of the men, who continue to gather weekly at a cramped apartment and talk of their hopes of getting new jobs. In January 2009, six complainants said, a new manager at the Avon store called a meeting of workers — virtually all West African — and said: “I don’t like some of the faces I see here. There are people in Eagle County who need jobs.” One of them, Mamadou Sy, said in his complaint: “Directing himself towards the West Africans present, he said, ‘Wow, there are a lot of Africans, and I don’t like some of the faces I see here.’ We felt as if he was threatening us.” Most of the employees said they had been repeatedly disciplined for not meeting production requirements.Mr. Sy, 61, said he was fired in September after his supervisors told him he had to greatly increase the number of boxes he was stocking. He was not physically able to do so, he said. “I worked here for more than three years and never had any complaints about my job,” he said. “Now, we have all been getting fired. We felt it was racism.” NYTimes Source