Store allegedly forced Latino workers to use separate restrooms
MANHATTAN (WPIX) -- B&H is widely known within the city and beyond as a destination for anything and everything to do with electronics.
However, what has emerged about the way they conduct business is generating this kind of reaction from Councilman Ritchie Torres, "it's outrageous to all of us."
Torres met with with PIX11 News to discuss the federal case filed against the electronics retailer by the Department of Labor. It is a case where the Feds lay out allegations of profiling Latinos by management, underpaying them and forcing Latino workers to use restrooms that according to the complaint, "were separate and far from super restrooms used by the white warehouse workers," at the Brooklyn Navy Yard location.
"You have systematic exploitation of Latino laborers, and as the co-chair of the Black, Latino, Asian Caucus in the City Council I find it outrageous and the federal government should no longer be doing business with a company that has a pattern of discrimination among low wage workers," said Torres, in the shadows of City Hall on Monday.
Jeanne Christensen, is an employment attorney and partner at Wigdor LLP in Midtown.
"At first they weren't hiring them at all right? That was the basis of the first lawsuit in 2007. Now they are actually hiring them, so after they are hiring them, now they are discriminating against them in the workplace, of course it's horrible."
Christensen is familiar with large corporations targeting minorities, she represented clients in the infamous "Shop and Frisk" scandal, in particular, the Macy's aspect of the scandal that PIX11 News was the first to expose back in the autumn of 2013.
"I'm not surprised, it's depressing. We hear about it all the time. People would be shocked at how many times we get phone calls from people who are facing this kind of discrimination."
According to the complaint, B&H has been awarded more than $40 million dollars in federal contracts. It is also important to note that the Brooklyn Navy Yard is owned by the City of New York with a third party not-for-profit managing the city land. Torres feels that since this is allegedly happening on the city's property, the city should move to disassociate itself with B&H.
"That is the kind of company with which the city should never do business and we should see to it that we never do business with B&H," Torres said.
B&H did provide a lengthy statement in response to the allegations in which they state, "Every one of our employees is treated with respect and dignity, no matter of race, religion or gender."
The statement goes on to add, "the allegations you have been hearing about are largely made by people who have never set foot in a B&H facility. For the time being, we will address several of the accusations, as they are far from factual."