Former employees of Wet Seal Inc. are suing the clothing retailer for racial discrimination, claiming that the store was biased against black managers because they didn’t mesh with the image Wet Seal wanted to portray. According to the lawsuit, their “brand image” is “blond hair and blue eyes.”

In a statement, Wet Seal responded that it is an equal opportunity employer, Thomson Reuters reports. “We deny any and all allegations of race discrimination and will vigorously defend this matter,” the statement reads.

The suit claims that a Wet Seal senior vice president emailed employees after a tour of several stores in Philadelphia and Maryland: “Store teams – need diversity/African American dominate – huge issue.”

Plaintiffs are seeking class action status on behalf of current and former black managers of Wet Seal stores. They are claiming that the discrimination is company policy, rather than a result of incidents at individual stores, in the hopes of working around the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dukes v. Wal-Mart.


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