U.S. Government Sues Sports Apparel Retailer Fanatics for Racial Discrimination

by Hannah Abrams

Sports apparel company Fanatics is at the center of a major racial discrimination lawsuit. | Credit:  Getty Images  by Robin Marchant

Sports apparel company Fanatics is at the center of a major racial discrimination lawsuit. | Credit: Getty Images by Robin Marchant

Sports apparel company Fanatics, who recently inked a huge licensing deal with the NFL, is in major hot water this week. According to Bloomberg, the U.S. government is suing the company for racial discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed the suit yesterday in Florida district court. The suit alleges that the company repeatedly subjected a former employee, a black man, to discrimination while he was employed at the company's Jacksonville headquarters.

Specifically, the employee said a team leader used the n-word, while other colleagues and superiors would make comments like "I'm not racist but a lot of you [black] guys can't read" and "Africans in Europe know their place, but not in the United States," reported Bloomberg.

In addition, other Fanatics employees stated the workplace is racially divided, and black and white employees are treated differently. A former operations administrator said minorities at the company are "treated like uneducated slave labor," according to the lawsuit.

But the Michael Rubin-owned company isn't going down without a fight.

“Fanatics is committed to treating all employees fairly and takes complaints like this very seriously,” the company said in a statement. “We deny any wrongdoing and look forward to vigorously defending these claims in court.”

If Fanatics can't prove its innocence, it spells huge trouble for the company. Its NFL and MLB partnerships certainly hang in the balance, as well as its college partnerships. We will keep you updated as the lawsuit plays out in court.

Lacoste adopts temporary logo to help endangered species

by David Blank

Lacoste's limited-edition endangered species polo shirts.

Lacoste's limited-edition endangered species polo shirts.

Lacoste temporarily replaced its polo shirts' crocodile logo with the images of 10 endangered species to help counter the threat of extinction.

The shirts, which are part of a limited run supporting the "Save Our Species" campaign that launched during Paris Fashion Week on March 1, have sold out.

Replacing the crocodile above the left breast of the shirt are the Gulf of California porpoise, the Burmese roofed turtle, Sumatran tiger, the Anegada ground iguana and the northern sportive lemur, among others.

The French clothing company calibrated the number of shirts produced for each series to the population of the remaining animals in the wild. Of the 1,775 shirts available, the Gulf of California porpoise had the smallest print run, with just 30 shirts available.

The Anegada iguana, by contrast, was the most available, with 450 editions. Proceeds went to International Union for Conservation of Nature, an international advocacy organization working to protect nature that sponsored the campaign.

"Together these rare reptiles, birds and mammals champion the plight of all known threatened species," IUCN said in a statement.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service has placed 1,459 animals on its threatened and endangered list.

Wildlife expert Jeff Corwin lauded Lacoste's efforts and said he hoped it would inspire other companies to take on similar projects.

"It's a great start and I'm hoping it's just the beginning and inspires other companies to follow suit," Corwin told CNN. "Maybe Jaguar will do something for jaguars. Ram trucks maybe will start protecting big horn sheep."

"Generating awareness is equally important to fundraising because in order to solve the problem you need to understand the challenges," he added.

Lacoste's crocodile logo was introduced in 1936, and the company has never before sold shirts featuring other animals.