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Dillard’s Suit Alleges Racial Discrimination

The lawsuit, filed by Debbie Deavers Sturvisant in a federal district court in Birmingham, Ala., seeks class-action status.

NEW YORK — Dillard’s Inc. is the subject of a discrimination lawsuit filed by an African-American woman alleging that prices charged by the retailer for a salon “wash and set” were higher than the prices charged to Caucasian women for the same service.

The lawsuit, filed by Debbie Deavers Sturvisant in a federal district court in Birmingham, Ala., seeks class-action status. It was initially filed on Feb. 9, 2005, then amended on Feb. 15, according to court records.

Sturvisant’s lawsuit included charges of racial discrimination, misrepresentation and unjust enrichment. She alleged in court documents that she was charged $35 for “ethnic” hair, while the charge for the same service for Caucasian women was only $20. She also noted in her lawsuit several other cases filed against Dillard’s as examples “suggesting a corporate culture of discrimination.”

The plaintiff is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

Dillard’s filed its answer to the amended lawsuit on March 3. In its response, Dillard’s denied that the plaintiff is entitled to any relief, and added several defenses including that the “services provided to plaintiff were based upon legitimate, nondiscriminatory factors and were not based upon the plaintiff’s race.”

This story first appeared in the June 2, 2005 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.