Last Updated on 08/16/2017 by Chris Gampat
Unless you've been living under a rock or purposely turning a blind eye to the issue, you're most likely aware that B&H Photo (B&H Foto legally) has been in the middle of a class action lawsuit involving discrimination for a while. It started when workers in their warehouses (located in Brooklyn) started protesting unsafe conditions and discrimination. The workers, who wanted to unionize, were not being allowed to do so. Now, to settle the problems B&H Photo has "agreed to pay $3,220,000 in back wages and other monetary relief to more than 1,300 affected class members," according to a recent press release issued by the Department of Labor.
But the problems didn't stop there.
B&H Photo was making the claim that they're going to move their warehouses to New Jersey and out of Brooklyn. While some on the internet saw this as B&H Photo trying to get out of the lawsuit, this part is actually a legitimate claim. Many local businesses here in Brooklyn are moving their warehouses; and so it isn't just B&H Photo that is relocating their facilities. The blame is instead being pinned on rising costs in Brooklyn. To that end, B&H also agreed to hire a workplace consultant to help correct its employment practices and workplace conduct at its Brooklyn Navy Yard warehouse, as well as its future warehouse in Florence, New Jersey according to the press release. Considering that B&H Photo has employees coming in by bus from parts of Brooklyn, New Jersey, Monsey, etc., it only seems logical that they'd be able to bus their employees residing in Brooklyn to the New Jersey warehouses.
There is no official or clear word on whether or not a union will be formed and worked with either.
Here's the press release issued by the Department of Labor:
Personally speaking, this doesn't truly make it all alright with me. Within the past 10 years, there are four publicly reported on lawsuits for discrimination involving B&H Photo. These include the recent one in 2016, one in 2011, in 2010, 2009, etc. Again, on a personal level, I equate it to the person who constantly breaks traffic laws and parking laws to get a ticket for it over and over again simply because they'll just pay the ticket and move on. Until the upper management finds a way to change the company's policies or even lets it go public, I'm not sure if this is going to be the last that we're going to hear of the lawsuits.
As a matter of objectivity, I used to work at B&H Photo as the Social Media Content Developer until I left to run the Phoblographer full time. The Phoblographer has, in the past, endorsed B&H Photo as an affiliate partner on this website. Since this lawsuit, we have not worked to push their deals. And if you're looking for an option that lines up a bit more with your ethics then there's Adorama, Foto Care, Lomography, K&M Camera, Unique Photo and others. My site will occasionally review products from their in-house brands which you should know are under the Gradus Group.
– Big thanks to Ellis who found this news out