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A former salesman for the Philadelphia Eagles Radio Network has been awarded $614,000 by the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in a discrimination case that began after his supervisor handed out copies of a book, New Dress for Success, by John T. Molloy.
In May 2001, supervisors at the radio network, which is affiliated with WYSP-FM in Philadelphia, distributed the book to all its salespeople, including Shawn Brooks, 34, then the only African-American salesperson on staff.
The book is a collection of advice on how to dress for business success, and in a chapter directed at minorities, it advises blacks selling to whites not to wear "Afro" hairstyles or African-style clothing. It also advises Hispanic salespeople to "avoid any hair tonic that tends to give a greasy or shiny look to the hair; this also triggers a negative reaction."
Brooks was offended by the contents of the book, and when he deemed the response to his complaints insufficient, he resigned and filed discrimination charges with the commission.
Brooks found sympathetic ears at the commission. After reviewing the book, commission Chairman Stephen A. Glassman called it "the most egregious case of published documentation on stereotyping and bias toward race, gender and religion in the workplace the commissioners have seen in a long time."
Viacom Inc. and Infinity Broadcasting, the network's parent companies, have appealed the ruling to a state appellate court.