Dunbar v. Foot Locker, Inc.
As an employee at Foot Locker (the athletic footwear and apparel chain), Kevin Dunbar suffered severe antigay harassment and discrimination at the hands of his coworkers, supervisors and a customer. Foot Locker promises a harassment-free workplace and includes sexual orientation in its policies on discrimination and harassment, but when Dunbar formally complained, the discrimination intensified. Dunbar was transferred from one store location to another and eventually fired. In cooperation with the South Carolina Equality Coalition, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit against Foot Locker on Dunbar’s behalf. Lambda Legal argued that Foot Locker breached its contract with Dunbar by violating its own antiharassment, antidiscrimination and open-door policies. A settlement agreement provided a monetary settlement for Dunbar, along with a commitment from Foot Locker to more vigorously train its managers and employees about antigay harassment and to provide information on support and services to handle such harassment.
South Carolina is one of 32 states without explicit statewide protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In these states it is particularly crucial that companies with antidiscrimination policies make sure that all employees understand these policies and that they are enforced.
Lambda Legal's Impact
As a result of Dunbar’s case, Foot Locker employers nationwide will be trained in the dangers of antigay harassment and given resources to help combat it. Additionally, the case sent a message to employers in South Carolina and beyond that companies must take measures to enforce their own antiharassment and antidiscrimination policies.
- June 2004 Lambda Legal files antigay discrimination lawsuit against Foot Locker, arguing that the company violated its own antiharassment and antidiscrimination policies.
- December 2004 Victory! Lambda Legal reaches settlement with Foot Locker. In the agreement, Foot Locker commits to better train its managers and employees about antigay harassment and resources to address this problem.
Gregory R. Nevins
Ernest Cromartie III of Cromartie Law Firm LLP, in Columbia, SC; Nekki Shutt of Callison, Tighe & Robinson LLC, in Columbia, SC