Forever 21 Sued for National Origin Discrimination in California

Clothing retailer Forever 21 could be in violation of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). San Francisco Business Times reports that the company has been sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) for allegedly putting in place an English-only policy for its workers in its San Francisco store.

Forever 21 Allegedly Discriminated against Spanish-Speaking Employees

According to the lawsuit, Forever 21 discriminated against Spanish-speaking workers once it established the English-only policy at its San Francisco location. If true, the retailer will have violated California civil rights and employment discrimination laws. The suit alleges that the Forever 21 flagship store prohibited its employees from speaking not just Spanish, but any language other than English. The company even went so far as to bar workers from speaking other languages when they were on breaks, greeting each other, or even conversing with Spanish-speaking customers.

Employees Faced Hostile Working Conditions After Complaining

The DFEH also alleges that three Spanish-speaking employees who complained about the store policy had their hours cut and were subjected to a hostile work environment by their supervisors. The suit is seeking compensatory damages for these workers and a court order to stop the policy.

There is a hint of irony to the store’s English-only policy. In fact, Forever 21 was started by Jin Sook and Do Won Chang in Los Angeles, a husband-and-wife duo who were immigrants from South Korea. The couple did not speak fluent English when they arrived to the United States in 1981.

The FEHA Prohibits National Origin Discrimination in the Workplace

California employment law protects employees from national origin discrimination at work. Under the FEHA, it is unlawful for a California employer to subject its employees to adverse employment actions due to their actual or perceived national origin or ancestry. In Forever 21’s case, management may have defied the law by cutting Spanish-speaking workers’ hours and subjecting them to hostile working conditions.

Forever 21 National Origin Discrimination Lawsuit: For Further Reading

File a National Origin Discrimination Claim in California

If you feel you are being subjected to national origin discrimination in California, rest assured that California employment law offers extensive protections for employees. Contact our experienced California workplace discrimination attorneys today for a free consultation.