Workplace Racial Discrimination in Promotions and Hiring

by on January 2, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Promotions askew

Some managers need a friendly reminder: While they’re entitled to their personal opinions on race, they’re not entitled to make decisions about promotions based on those opinions.

One company settled a workplace racial discrimination lawsuit filed by African-Americans who’d watched as their white peers were promoted from the construction department to the more prestigious and better-paying service department.

The complaint also alleged the company had laid off blacks disproportionately to whites.

The employer agreed to pay $25,000 to settle the claims.

This case is a reminder to conduct periodic audits of your company’s internal advancement. If it favors any one gender, race or age group this favoritism could be used against you in a court of law.

Cite: EEOC v. ThyssenKrupp Elevator.

Cost to firm of race and sex bias: $940K

Black and female applicants didn’t have a chance with a Cleveland metals manufacturer, the EEOC says. Now, the firm will pay $940,000 to settle a suit on behalf of 20-plus candidates who were rejected due to gender and racial discrimination at work.

These people had applied over the past seven years for jobs including laborer and machine operator.

Cite: EEOC v. S&Z Tool & Die Co.
Racial preferences alive and well

A study that sent specially-trained pairs of black and white job applicants to California temp agencies found a “significant preference” for white applicants over slightly higher qualified African Americans. The agencies favored the less-qualified white applicants by ratios of 4-to-1 in Los Angeles and more than 2-to-1 in San Francisco.

Preferences for white applicants were reflected in various ways. For example, a white applicant was granted an interview while the black counterpart was not; a white applicant was offered a job with a higher salary or for a higher duration; and a white applicant was the only one to be offered coaching or suggestions for improvement.

Racial discrimination at work isn’t always conscious. HR should monitor hiring practices for troubling patterns that could indicate discrimination among hiring managers.

Promotion gaffe

If you promote a less experienced white employee over a more experienced minority employee, you’d better be able to show that race was not a factor.

A bank could show no good business reason for passing on a dark-skinned Mexican immigrant in favor of a white, American-born worker.

She won a workplace racial discrimination lawsuit for more than $100,000 in lost wages and emotional distress.

Cite: White v. Citizens Bank.
$500,000 settlement for workplace racial discrimination

Federal Express had a costly HR clean-up to do at a trucking company it acquired, thanks to the company’s past treatment of African-Americans.

FedEx agreed to pay $500,000 to 20 African-American employees who were denied promotions and work assignments, said the EEOC, which brought the suit that led to the settlement. The jobs involved were dock worker and dock supervisor at the American Freightways terminal.

Cite: EEOC v. FedEx Freight East

Bigoted policy costs employer $45,000

People are entitled to their opinions, but not always entitled to act on them.

When a CEO refused to promote an African-American from a laborer to a sales position, the CEO remarked, “This is redneck country,” and customers wouldn’t accept a black man as an account manager.

The employee quit and filed a racial discrimination lawsuit. The employer settled, agreeing to pay $45,000, train managers on federal anti-discrimination laws and report to the EEOC periodically on the racial makeup of its sales staff.

Cite: EEOC v. Frontier Materials Co.

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