Bass Pro Shops denied allegations by the U.S. Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (EEOC) that the company discriminated against
African American and Hispanic applicants in its employment practices and
that it retaliated against any employees. The EEOC filed a federal lawsuit on Wednesday claiming that the fishing tackle retail giant had discriminated against minority applicants and employees and retaliated against those that spoke up about it.
â€œThe EEOC’s allegations are contrary to our profound respect for and
commitment to our team of experienced and knowledgeable associates, and
we are determined to prove them wrong,â€ said Mike Rowland, Vice
President of Human Resources. “Respect for our associates and our customers
is central to the mission of our company, and it has been a key
contributor to our success.”
Bass Pro said it is extremely disappointed by the EEOC’s decision to
â€œThe company has cooperated with the EEOC throughout its
investigation, providing extensive documentation and numerous
witnesses,â€ Rowland said. “Bass Pro vigorously denies the EEOC’s
allegations that the Company engaged in unlawful document destruction.
It is our policy to retain all documents required by law. We provided
more than 250,000 pages of documents to the EEOC.
â€œDespite our cooperation, the EEOC made unrealistic demands during
conciliation. The EEOC cannot or will not tell us the basis for the
analysis they claim to have conducted. Fundamental fairness
and good faith should require that the EEOC reveal the evidence on which
its claims are based before filing a lawsuit that will be long,
expensive and disruptive.
â€œThis investigation and the EEOC’s conduct demonstrate a troubling
tendency by the EEOC to stereotype those who love outdoor sports and
support conservation as people who unlawfully discriminate or oppose
equal opportunity for all. For example, EEOC staff
investigators have suggested on several occasions that because Bass Pro
sponsors a NASCAR race team the company is more likely to discriminate
“In addition, the EEOC staff raised questions about Bass Pro’s policy
against hiring convicted felons, claiming it discriminates against
certain minority groups, even though federal regulations prohibit
convicted felons from handling firearms, and Bass Pro sells firearms,
ammunition and explosives.
â€œBass Pro has long been a significant supporter of numerous youth
development and conservation programs that give outdoor opportunities to
inner-city diverse youth. As we challenge these unfair and unfounded
charges, we want to assure the millions of people from all walks of
life who visit our stores annually that Bass Pro will continue to
provide the one-of-a-kind experience they have come to expect. And we will do so while fully complying with the law.â€