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EEOC Sues American Freight Furniture and Mattress for Systemic Sex-Based Discrimination in Hiring

Federal Agency Charges National Furniture Retailer Refused to Hire Female Applicants

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - American Freight Management Company, LLC d/b/a American Freight Furniture and Mattress violated federal anti-discrimination laws by engaging in systemic discrimination against female applicants, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) today. The lawsuit charges that American Freight refused to hire or even consider a class of female applicants for employment because of their sex.

American Freight, headquartered in Delaware, Ohio, operates a nationwide chain of warehouse-style discount furniture stores specializing in furniture obtained through factory closeouts, dealer cancellations, retail chain buyouts, and wholesale liquidations. The company has over 150 stores located throughout the United States.

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, since at least January 1, 2013, American Freight has engaged in a nationwide pattern or practice of discrimination against  women, intentionally excluding qualified female applicants from sales and warehouse jobs because of their sex. Corporate managers instructed store managers not to hire women because women "complain and make trouble." Store employees also heard store managers say that women: "bitch too much;" are too much of "a distraction" to the male employees; cannot work in the warehouse because "women can't lift," and do not "do as great a job at selling furniture as men," according to the suit. 

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed its lawsuit (EEOC v. American Freight Management Company, LLC d/b/a American Freight Furniture and Mattress, Case No. 2:10-cv-00273) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division, in Birmingham after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks monetary relief, including back pay and compensatory and punitive damages, for the class of female applicants denied employment opportunities due to the company's discriminatory policies and practices. The suit also seeks injunctive relief to prevent future sex-based discrimination, including an order that American Freight be required to institute policies, practices and procedures that conform to the requirements of federal law.

"Refusing to hire or even consider an applicant because of her sex deprives people of equal opportunities within the workplace, and the EEOC is committed to stopping this sort of illegal conduct," said Bradley Anderson, district director of the EEOC's Birmingham District Office.

"All job applicants deserve to be evaluated based on their qualifications, without regard to sex," said Marsha Rucker, regional attorney of the EEOC's Birmingham District Office.

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, including exclusionary policies and practices that discriminate against women, is one of the national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan.

The EEOC's Birmingham District Office is responsible for processing discrimination charges, administrative enforcement, and the conduct of agency litigation in  Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties) and the Florida Panhandle.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

Any female who applied for, and was denied, employment with American Freight after January 1, 2013 and/or witnessed or otherwise may have information related to sex-based discrimination in hiring at American Freight stores should contact the EEOC at americanfreight@eeoc.gov.