ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Over the past 50 years, Menards has built itself into a home-improvement giant. The Eau Claire, Wis., company has 262 stores in 13 states around the Midwest.

But growth hasn’t been without cost. In 2004, several minority employees filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that they were unfairly passed over for promotions.

“Several individuals filed a class action complaint with the EEOC and they claimed they were being held back in attempts for promotion because of their race,” said Attorney Jeffrey Taren.

The initial complaints prompted an investigation by EEOC that lasted until 2010. During that time, federal investigators analyzed the company’s employment and promotion records.  The investigation identified some 700 present and former Menards workers who were also discriminated against. They ranged from assistant department managers to store managers.

The case later went to the American Arbitration Association, which approved a settlement between Menards and the plaintiffs on Jan. 24. In addition to paying the class $1 million in claims, Menards will also change how its present and future employees are promoted.

“African-Americans have the same opportunities of anyone else to go up the ladder to become store managers or above,” Taren said.

It’s not clear how many of the plaintiffs worked at Menards Minnesota locations. But Minnesota’s Commissioner of Human Rights, Kevin Lindsey, said the case shows a continuing battle in the general workplace.

“Discrimination still does occur and it’s still prevalent in the United States and in our state of Minnesota,” said Lindsey.

Under the terms of the settlement, Menards doesn’t have to admit any wrongdoing. Company Spokesperson Jeff Abbott called the settlement with plaintiffs and the government, “a wise business decision.”

The company’s written statement further reads, “To continue is like attempting to wrestle an 850 pound gorilla. You may survive doing so for a while but it generally ends poorly for the poor citizens involved.”

Plaintiffs will each receive letters notifying them of the procedure for filing for their monetary award by Feb. 23.

Comments (17)
  1. Kevin says:

    Its the end of the world as we know it……..and I feel fine…(and armed)

  2. Bill Clintons Cigar says:

    Say..dont you love the smell of diversity on the morning?

  3. angus says:

    Who would want to work at Menards in the first place? Employees and management are as surly and helpful at WalMart.

    Soulds like the two previous commentaters need to get out into the real world and find out what it is like. Have seen way too much discrimination in society and the work place but white people seldom notice it.

    Note: I am white, old, but still hopeful we can improve our society

  4. Frank Talk says:


    You have been shaken down by minorities and the Federal Government.

    What are you going to do now? I would ship as many jobs as possible overseas.

    1. Kathy says:

      Nope…they will do like St Jude and stop hiring them……fool us once ….shame on you…..fool us twice…and 85% unemployment…..

      1. Chigger Swatter says:

        Guess that’s all ya can do….fight fire with unemployment.
        Yea wants – yea shall get.

  5. djp says:

    Yep…not smart enough to get promoted…use the race card!!

  6. djp says:

    Use that race card if you cannot get promoted on your own!!

  7. Brett says:

    I thought that Walmart was the big, EVIL giant, now Menard’s is? Wow. Guess the employees didn’t like seeing son Paul driving in that NASCAR car over the past few years, thought he had it too good…..

  8. Elmer Froeling says:

    I’ve been rolling my own Cigs since 1947.

  9. white rules says:

    hahahaha… i love the whiteys… you guys are great… i’ve seen the whiteys’ work ethic…

  10. See BS says:

    Good luck trying to get “Frisky” Asian Billionaires to open business in the State of Minnesota.

    Sounds like JFK liked 19 year old interns too.

  11. Real says:

    Reality is often blacks are not qualified or competent for the job. Many companies track the number of them in the company and it’s always low. It is what it is but it is not p/c even if it’s good business.

  12. J armstromg says:

    My people were slaughtered by: the English,French, Danish & Romans.They still suffer in Appalachia USA IS IT too late for us to file? A Scot

  13. Rufus Larkin says:

    How else will you Save Big Money?

  14. Common Cents says:

    You wanna get promoted, earn it! You reap what you sow. I go to Menards almost weekly, next time your there, pay attention to who is willing to offer assistance without you chasing them down.

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