Skills Testing May Be Unlawful Discrimination
Employers that use pre-employment skills testing that has an adverse impact on minorities may be violating federal anti-discrimination laws if the employers cannot prove that the tests are related to job performance. A large food-processing company recently had to pay more than half a million dollars to settle a case involving this issue.
The Department of Labor (DOL) brought the case against the company, one of the world’s largest producers of mozzarella cheese, after the DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs performed a scheduled compliance review of the company. The DOL found that the exam – from testing company WorkKeys – had a disparate impact on African-American, Asian and Hispanic applicants for on-call entry-level laborer positions.
According to the DOL, the exam was “not job-related” because the skills the company tested -- applied math, observation skills and the ability to locate information – were “not critical” to the tasks the laborers performed, such as sanitation maintenance, equipment monitoring and product inspection.
In the settlement, the company agreed to pay $550,000 in back wages, benefits and interest to 253 minority applicants whom the company rejected, over a 22-month period, for the laborer positions because they had failed the exam. The company also agreed to stop using the exam for laborer applicants and correct any discriminatory procedures.
While the EEOC enforces many of the federal anti-discrimination laws, the DOL enforces Executive Order 11246, the law involved in this case, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
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Tags: Employment Discrimination, Preventing Discrimination and Harassment