The national retailer Rent-A-Center failed to stop an employee from using racial slurs at two store locations in Pennsauken, the New Jersey Attorney General's Office said Wednesday in a complaint filed against the company.
A black assistant manager at the store in the 3900 block of Federal Street told company officials that his coworker Christina Martinez, also an assistant manager, yelled several slurs at him during an argument about a customer matter in 2014, according to the complaint.
Aaron Berry, the employee who reported the incident, was told by managers that it was a human-relations matter and that he should focus on "getting sales," the Attorney General's Office said.
The company required Martinez to undergo "corrective coaching," the complaint said, and transferred her to a store in the 7900 block of South Crescent Boulevard.
An employee there also told the company that Martinez was using the N-word and that he had complained to the store manager, according to the Attorney General's Office.
An employee who answered the phone at the business Wednesday said Martinez no longer worked there. Attempts to reach her were unsuccessful. Berry referred comment to Folkman Law Offices in Cherry Hill, which did not return a call late Wednesday afternoon.
Rent-A-Center officials denied the allegations.
"Rent-A-Center is disappointed that the New Jersey Attorney General's Office has decided to expend taxpayer resources on a case that is almost two years old," spokeswoman Gina Hethcock said. "The employee, who is currently employed with us, complained to human resources. Rent-A-Center conducted a complete investigation and administered workplace behavior and antidiscrimination training promptly upon receipt of the complaint."
Hethcock said the company has 21,000 employees and offers several ways for them to report discrimination.
The complaint, filed in Superior Court in Camden, requests that Rent-A-Center be monitored for two years by the state's Division on Civil Rights.
"If proven to be true, these allegations are an outrageous example of this company's failure to stand up against racial bias," Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino said in a statement Wednesday.
The Texas-based company has 2,600 stores, including 40 in New Jersey.