|Nancy C. DeMis, Nicole Cogdell, and Stefan Roots conduct the first interview|
The city of Chester is abuzz upon hearing that Nicole Cogdell is back in town. On May 8, 2013, her discrimination case against Wet Seal was settled and she contacted me to conduct her first interview.
This may be the only time I will ever be pushed ahead of KYW.
We met this afternoon at Chester City Hall with her lead attorney Nancy C. DeMis. I had done a ton of reading leading up to the interview to try to understand the case and settlement, so it was helpful to have Attorney DeMis present to help me understand that legal stuff.
Much of the details in the interview are too lengthy for this blog, and the video that I captured would require a lot of editing which I’m too lazy to do right now. But, I’ll share some of the interview highlights with the following summaries.
Wet Seal has agreed to pay a total of $7.5 million dollars to settle the class action. There’s a preliminary hearing in June where the Judge is asked to give permission to notify all potential class members to submit a claim and then the Judge has to give final approval, probably about 6 months later. These matters always seem to take a while.
Of course, Ms. Cogdell isn’t coming home with $7.5 million dollars as many folks are led to believe. The settlement awards the attorneys their fee and much of the remainder is divided among the eligible black employees who worked for Wet Seal’s company’s since 2008, including Ms. Cogdell. In these class action suits, a lot of people are potentially paid.
Changes at Wet Seal
The settlement also requires Wet Seal to change its ways with regarding to hirings, promotions, evaluations, and diversity. They have to include blacks in their advertising and be involved with organizations like the NAACP. They will be watched to make sure situations like Ms. Cogdell experience will never happen again.
Changes for other retailers like Wet Seal
The hope is that this case will influence others in the retail world to create a more inclusive environment and not go to the discriminatory extremes Wet Seal did to maintain that ‘certain image’.
The Significance of this case
Attorney DeMis shared how difficult it is to win a discrimination case. She couldn’t say for certain, but chances are, without the ‘smoking gun’ email implying a policy of discrimination that was issued by a Wet Seal top manager, it’s probably unlikely that any law firm would take the time and effort to have created the case for Ms. Cogdell. A win of this magnitude is very rare as a lot of stars have to line up just right. You can expect that law students will be studying Cogdell vs. Wet Seal for years to come.
Ms. Cogdell’s plans
Nicole says she’s happy it’s finally almost over. She is an advocate at heart and enjoys working as a Community Liaison for Mayor Linder and will continue to do so.
You can expect to see Nicole Cogdell featured in the next few days in the local media. I’m proud to say I got her first.
Thanks Nicole and Nancy!