Despite comparable education and work experience, 17% of black and 13% of Latino retail workers live below the poverty line, compared to 9% of the retail workforce overall, according to a new study by the NAACP conducted by Demos. Black and Latino retail workers are more likely to be employed part-time even when they prefer full-time work, and “just-in-time” scheduling exacerbates the pay and quality-of-life issues that come with the practice, adding to a problem of “workplace” segregation, the study found.
Black and Latino retail workers are underrepresented in supervisory positions, like managers or first-line supervisors, and overrepresented in lower-paid positions, like cashiers. Black workers make up 11% of the retail labor force but 6% of managers. Black and Latino full-time retail salespersons earn 75% of the wages of their white peers, the study found.
Meanwhile, four former CVS store detectives have taken the drugstore retailer to court, alleging that they were made to target Black and Latino shoppers and that they were fired when they complained of being forced to racially discriminate.
Added to these numbers from the NAACP and the claims made in court by former CVS store detectives is the Supreme Court’s ruling this week that Abercrombie & Fitch violated civil rights law when it failed to give a young Muslim woman a job because her religious head scarf ran afoul of its dress code.
Perhaps the Supreme Court case is the easiest one to notice for its unfairness; indeed Justice Antonin Scalia, hardly a liberal on the Court, called it “easy.” Abercrombie & Fitch’s dress code and “cool kid” approach have been derided for a while. But these other patterns are also alarming, for their unfairness to individuals as well as for the way they perpetuate problems in society.
Certainly retailers must address these issues if they’re to succeed at efforts to increase sales to minorities; Hispanics, for example, are an increasingly important consumer demographic.