No Balle Balle for Bally

HL Menken famously said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” That’s true not just of customers, but of corporate employees as well.

If I managed a gym and I was hiring somebody to do sales, I would care about how much experience they had, maybe how fit they looked, but I can’t imagine caring about the nationality or religion of the applicant. And this would especially true in a place like Fresno which is one of the most diverse counties in the state of California. Still, that’s just what one Bally’s in Fresno did – out and out discriminated against a Sikh man:

Sukdev “Devin” Singh Dhaliwal applied for a sales job with one of Bally’s five Fresno fitness centers in 2004. An interviewer quizzed Dhaliwal, who was born and raised in California, about his religious and ethnic background, and then denied him a job and hired non-Sikh, non-Indian applicants with less experience, according to the commission.

He was basically asked where he was born, where his parents were born, what religion he subscribed to and whether he was a Muslim,” said EEOC program analyst Linda Li. “He’s very American.” [Link]

Why bring up news from almost 3 years ago today? Because it took that long for Bally’s to face justice and … lose:

Under the consent decree approved by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey S. White, Bally must pay Dhaliwal $24,000 in damages and provide training in equal opportunity hiring practices to managers at its Fresno locations. Dhaliwal said he plans to donate some of the money to his alma mater, California State University, Fresno, where a business law professor steered him to the EEOC after hearing about the interview. [Link]

It’s not a lot of money, but it should send a message. Sadly, it’s a message that still needs sending.

14 thoughts on “No Balle Balle for Bally

  1. Before you ask, I have no idea if Dhaliwal had a turban and beard or not. That’s the only article out there, and I can’t find a photo.

  2. It’s hard to believe that such a well established company like Bally’s would still ask illegal questions (religion, etc.) I guess their staff isn’t very well trained to begin with. Or they’re racist/prejudiced…one of the two.

  3. I’m surprised but not so surprised. When I was younger, my dad was denied jobs based on the color of his skin. Granted we lived in a smaller town, but it taught me at an early age that there so many who still consider culture/religion/skin color as a factor in the hiring process. Will we ever get to a time and place when it isn’t important to look at those things? I doubt it…but I still hope we’ll get closer.

  4. It’s hard to believe that such a well established company like Bally’s would still ask illegal questions (religion, etc.) I guess their staff isn’t very well trained to begin with. Or they’re racist/prejudiced…one of the two.

    Or they figured that their customers would discriminate against a Muslim salesman so they didn’t want to hire one. It’s really not clear what the motivation was here, whether bigotry by the interviewer, presumed bigotry by customers, both, or anything else.

  5. I am not surprised. A friend of mine a few years ago interviewed at mid-sized firm and they asked him straight out about his religion. And then they went on to make jokes about it during the interview. My friend felt awkward during the entire 1/2 day interview. He didn’t find the jokes funny. He didn’t get a job offer.

  6. i’m not surprised either…

    a program director once told another person… ‘oh.. she would interview so well without covering her hair’.(referring to her hijab)..

    person: ‘that has to do with her religion and culture’…

    director: ‘she would do much better without it’..

    director who is a clueless idiot, also told an asian in one of the groups..’oh i’m glad you’re here.. since next year all the incoming trainees will be asian and you can help tell them apart’..

    i almost wanted to puke.

    there are idiots in all areas of the world..whether it be bally’s or in a hospital to a 7-11 and wall street who are still certified idiots…doesn’t matter what your degree or education level.. some people are just born asinine.

  7. discrimination on the basis of national origin or religion is generally known by HR departments to be easily avoidable caltrops–the fact that they defended this so vigorously has to be because their insurance carrier didn’t waive subrogation and thought the gym’s case had merits.

    poor claims-adjusting on the carrier’s part.

    i have noticed, after working out at all the corporate-chain style gyms in my area, that they have a fairly lax attitude towards loss control. You can nearly always find an independent trainer, without any evidence of liability coverage, working out clients and giving them potentially injurious routines. The management seems to not care at all.

  8. Dang, dude, I am totally converting to Sikhism/Islam/Korean/hot cups of McDonald’s coffee – whatever pushes enough buttons to get me a few thousand/hundred thousand dollars! Now, if only software companies discriminated too…

  9. discrimination on the basis of national origin or religion is generally known by HR departments to be easily avoidable caltrops–the fact that they defended this so vigorously has to be because their insurance carrier didn’t waive subrogation and thought the gym’s case had merits.

    Muralimannered – care to translate to English for those of us who don’t speak legalese ;)

  10. Does anyone know (pardon my ignorance) whether the EEOC operates in criminal or civil cases? Would our friend in Fresno still have grounds to pursue a civil case and rub Bally’s nose in their own silliness a bit? I’m generally anti-litigous, but it seems that $24K is barely enough to tickle the nostrils of a corporation. I work out at a Bally’s in MA and have noticed a generally callous attitude towards employee training, though the sales force (trainers) seem to be quite conscientious about keeping the ‘rogue trainers’ out.

  11. basically it means that the insurance company didn’t waive their right to defend this gym–either that or carrier responded out of fear that ballys would sue them (generally the carrier does have the duty to pony up some defense costs.) Cases like these only go on, however, if the insurance carrier’s claims adjusters determine that the case has merits and has a shot of succeeding. In many cases on the bodily injury side of the spectrum, a carrier will choose to settle fairly quickly if it finds the case to be anything but ironclad and the demands to be for chump change ($24K).

    the legal costs incurred by the carrier ( or the insured) must have been far more than the $24K they paid out, if the case went on for 3 years. Their total incurred costs must be at least 3x times the award.

    Basically somebody in claims is going “somebody gonna get a hurt real bad.”

  12. It is disappointing to hear about these kinds of situations still taking place. Bally’s should be happy to get a diverse group of employees. I don’t think I will purchase any of Bally’s products or services for some time.

  13. the legal costs incurred by the carrier ( or the insured) must have been far more than the $24K they paid out, if the case went on for 3 years. Their total incurred costs must be at least 3x times the award.

    Actually, I don’t think the case was finally filed in court until recently, but I don’t know when the EEOC first took it up. I know they tried to settle it via negotiation first.

  14. Bally’s sucks. And there’s even a url by that name!

    Bally’s has alot of lawsuits against it for cheating patrons ( i also got dooped ).

    The Bally’s I was at though had a very Arab, very Muslim, very HOT fitness trainer. That did not compensate however for the BS I went through with that company.

    Now they plan on opening centers in India so they can cheat the Indian people as well. That’s one of the drawbacks of a blossoming economy — credit cards and scams.