It’s likely one of those agreements General Nutrition Corporation (GNC) didn’t want disclosed to the public – but The Insite was in a federal courtroom when the details were released. The national chain of health stores settled a racial discrimination lawsuit for $375,000 in Houston Wednesday. The attorneys involved called it a confidential settlement. So what happened? Well according to court records, it was back in 2003 when a white high ranking manager, Tony Pittman, then division sales director was scheduled to be promoted to Vice President over Division II in Florida. While working here in Houston Pittman said he wondered why his regional sales director, Al Demeke – an African American, had never been promoted by the company to the position of division sales director. So Pittman, who’s white, said when he gets his expected promotion to Vice President of GNC he was going to promote
Demeke to his old position of regional sales director. Pittman says when he was flown to Pittsburgh back in 2003 by GNC to officially accept the promotion of Vice President, he would inform his managers that he was going to promote Demeke. So, during that promotion meeting Pittman said everything went fine. He was told he was GNC’s next Vice President by company executives. But Pittman says once he made it known he was going to promote Demeke, an African American, to regional sales director things began to change. He says by the time he made it back to Houston executives from GNC informed him his promotion as Vice President was rescinded. He was told GNC decided to go in a different direction and Pittman was eventually fired. Pittman in a lawsuit he filed with Demeke claims GNC had a history of not having any high ranking African American managers. According to the lawsuit, when Pittman informed company execs he was promoting a black his career came to a screeching halt. According to court records GNC has no black managers as of 2004. Now back to 2007. In federal Judge David Hittner’s courtroom today, the two sides came to an agreement after a 4 year legal battle. GNC decided to settle the case for $375,000 plus legal fees. However, this doesn’t mean GNC admits any guilt in the case. The Insite called the company for a comment on Wednesday afternoon and a company spokesperson told me to present the questions in writing and he would get back to me. As of this posting I have not heard back from GNC. The Insite would like to hear your opinion on this. Please leave your comments below!