Learning & Development

Hiring and Pay Discrimination: The Focus of the Federal Government

It’s never been more important than now to make sure that your hiring and payment practices are devoid of discrimination. That’s because recently they have become a major focus of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

By Susan Schoenfeld

Settlement costs ranged from $165,000 to $1.8 million and required the affected contractors to take action in hiring and promoting as reparations for those alleged violations.

‘Steering’ Costs Contractor $1.8 million

In its case against G&K Services, a uniform and facility services products provider, the OFCCP reached a settlement of what the agency alleged to be systemic hiring and pay discrimination violations identified in compliance evaluations initiated between 2011 and 2015.

The agency’s investigations indicated that the contractor discriminated against 444 female employees in laborer positions by engaging in so-called “steering” by disproportionately assigning them to lower-paying job duties while filling the higher-paying job duties predominantly with men even though female employees were qualified for, and able to perform, the higher-paying jobs.

The OFCCP determined that this practice of steering women into the lower-paying, “light-duty” jobs led to unlawful sex-based pay discrimination at G&K facilities in Denver, Colorado; Sacramento, California; Graham and Charlotte, North Carolina; Pleasant Hill, Iowa; Justice, Illinois; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Houston and Coppell, Texas.

This practice also resulted in a lower hiring rate for 2,327 male applicants who were equally or more qualified for general laborer positions at the Sacramento, Pleasant Hill, Justice, St. Paul, and Coppell locations. The OFCCP also found that G&K failed to provide equal opportunity to 456 African-American and 111 Caucasian applicants at its Houston and Charlotte locations when hiring for general laborer positions.

In the settlement, the contractor denied liability but agreed to pay a total of $1,813,555 to members of the affected classes and to extend 78 job opportunities to the male, black, and white applicants who were not hired and 58 opportunities for female employees to move into higher-paying positions.

In addition, the settlement required the contractor to undertake a detailed assessment of its hiring, placement, and compensation practices and its job postings and other documents to ensure it provided equal opportunity and did not discriminate on the basis of sex or race.

Finally, the settlement required the contractor to conduct regular adverse impact and compensation analyses at the locations where the OFCCP found alleged violations and to report regularly to the agency during the monitoring period on its fulfillment of these obligations.

Discrimination Finding in Hiring Costs Contractor

In another settlement recently announced by the OFCCP, federal contractor Aramark Educational Services, LLC, agreed to pay $165,000 in back wages, interest, and benefits to 335 male and African-American applicants to remedy alleged hiring discrimination for food service positions at its Lubbock, Texas, location.

In a press release announcing the settlement, OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu stated, “There are no such things as ‘women’s work’ and ‘men’s work.’ There is only work, and federal contractors are well aware of their obligation to provide equal opportunities to all employees and job applicants.”

Shiu adds, “This settlement is a reminder that it is up to the employee or job applicant to decide which positions to pursue, whatever their reasons. A contractor may only evaluate whether or not an individual has the ability to do the job.”

In addition to paying monetary damages, the contractor agreed to offer jobs to 53 original applicants as positions become available, and it will review and revise its selection process and provide training to its hiring managers to eliminate practices that result in gender and race stereotyping.

Allegation of Discriminatory Selection

In another recent settlement, the OFCCP had alleged that Hospira, Inc., a government contractor, discriminated against women in violation of Executive Order 11246 when it denied jobs to 145 female applicants for pharmacy attendant positions at its McPherson, Kansas, facility.

During the agency’s investigation, the OFCCP found that discriminatory selection practices resulted in qualified female applicants being hired at much lower rates than similarly qualified male applicants. The OFCCP also found that Hospira violated recordkeeping requirements by failing to preserve employment applications and interview forms.

In its conciliation agreement with the OFCCP, Hospira committed to hiring 11 female class members during the agreement’s monitoring period. The company will also pay $400,000 in back wages with interest to the 145 female job applicants who were denied positions. The company did not admit liability.

Tomorrow, what it all means, plus an introduction to BLR’s premier recruiting event: RecruitCon 2016: Tech, Trends, and Tactics for the New Era of Talent Acquisition!

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