EEOC Says Unions are Not Beyond the Reach of Title VII
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission sued a Florida union, the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters, alleging that the union engaged in intentional racial discrimination by negotiating, in collective bargaining, in favor of promotional exams that had a disparate impact against African-American candidates.
Title VII defines disparate-impact discrimination in testing as an employers’ use of tests or selection procedures that are neutral on their face but have the effect of disproportionately excluding people based on race or other protected characteristics, if the tests are not job-related and are not consistent with business necessity.
In this case, both the EEOC and the Department of Justice claimed that the promotional tests had a disparate impact on black firefighters seeking promotion. DOJ filed a lawsuit against the city of Jacksonville, and the EEOC filed a lawsuit against the union. The EEOC claimed that the union engaged in intentional racial discrimination because it negotiated in favor of the tests even knowing that the tests had an adverse impact against African-American test takers.
An EEOC spokesperson said, “The union’s insistence on maintaining the current promotional process has deprived many qualified African-Americans of promotional opportunities. We hope this lawsuit sends a clear message: Unions have a responsibility to oppose, not acquiesce in, racially discriminatory employment practices.” The EEOC is suing the union for compensatory and punitive damages and is also seeking a court order to prevent the union from advocating for the tests in a new collective-bargaining agreement.
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Tags: Preventing Discrimination and Harassment, workplace discrimination