Rent-A-Center, a nationwide retailer of rent-to-own appliances and furniture, agreed to pay $47 million to settle a class action sexual discrimination lawsuit. More than 5,000 women will receive compensation, and according to the terms of the agreement, Rent-A-Center will recruit women to serve on its board of directors and make a commitment to increase its number of women employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had previously found that 98 percent of the company’s employees were men.
Sex discrimination at Rent-A-Center appears to have been blatant. Witnesses testified that Rent-A-Center CEO J. Ernest Talley and several other company executives and managers made comments such as: “The day I hire a woman will be a cold day in hell;” “In case you didn’t notice, we do not employ women;” “I regularly throw away women’s applications;” “Get rid of women any way you can;” and “You were fired because you are a woman.” Talley left Rent-A-Center after the sex discrimination lawsuits were filed.