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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 6, 2006

Workplace bias suit settled for $200,000

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

A woman who said she was harassed and then fired from a Honolulu retail store because of her race has reached a $200,000 settlement with the company.

Yolanda Wang filed a federal lawsuit on Sept. 30, 2005, against Bally North America, alleging that a supervisor at the firm's Ala Moana Center store derided her ethnicity regularly beginning in September 2001. Wang was a manager at the store and, according to the lawsuit, said her boss often called her a "sneaky Chinese woman" who ran the store like a "little Chinese grocery store."

According to the lawsuit, Wang's supervisor also told her that she could work more than 70 hours a week because she was "young and Chinese" and that Chinese customers didn't spend much money at the store.

Wang, who is from Taiwan, alleged in the lawsuit that her supervisor "created an offensive, intimidating and hostile work environment" and unfairly criticized Wang's performance. Wang said she was fired because of her race and national origin.

A month before filing the lawsuit, Wang filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Yesterday, the EEOC announced that U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway has signed a consent decree that calls for Bally North America to pay Wang $200,000.

As part of the consent decree, New York-based Bally North America denied any wrongdoing. But the company agreed to institute training for its Hawai'i employees and to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination and retaliation, the EEOC said.

Tracey Levy, Bally's New York-based attorney, declined to comment yesterday. Wang and her attorney, Peter Fong, also declined to comment.

Reach Curtis Lum at culum@honoluluadvertiser.com.