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WALMART, INC. TO PAY $20 MILLION TO SETTLE EEOC NATIONWIDE HIRING DISCRIMINATION CASE

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Retail Giant to Cease Physical Abilities Testing Which Disproportionally Excluded Female Order Filler Applicants, Federal Agency Charged

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Walmart, Inc. will pay $20 million, stop using a pre-employment test, and furnish other relief to settle a companywide, sex-based hiring discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employ­ment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Walmart conducted a physical ability test (known as the PAT) as a requirement for applicants to be hired as order fillers at Walmart’s grocery distribution centers nationwide. The EEOC said the PAT disproportionately excludes female applicants from jobs as grocery order fillers.

This alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, including the use of tests administered to all applicants and employees regardless of sex but that cause a discriminatory effect or impact on persons of a particular sex or any other demographic category. Employers using such tests must prove the practices are necessary for the safe and efficient performance of the specific jobs. Even if this necessity is proven, such tests are prohibited if it is shown there are alternative practices that can achieve the employer’s objectives but have a less discriminatory effect.

The EEOC filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, London Division. (EEOC v. Walmart, Inc., Case No. 6:20-cv-00163-KKC) on Aug. 3, 2020, after first attempting to reach a settlement through its prelitigation voluntary conciliation process. The parties reached agreement and filed a joint motion to approve a consent decree that same day. The motion was approved by the court and the consent decree was entered on Sept. 9, 2020.

The consent decree requires Walmart to cease all physical ability testing currently being used for purposes of hiring grocery distribution center order fillers. The decree also requires Walmart to pay $20 million into a settlement fund to pay lost wages to women across the country who were denied grocery order filler positions because of the testing.   

Michelle Eisele, EEOC Indianapolis district director said, “One of the EEOC’s six national priorities is eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring. Employers need to ensure their testing and screening practices do not discriminate against any group.”

“The parties were able to reach an early resolution of this case due to Walmart’s willingness to engage in settlement discussions. Distribution center jobs provide good career opportunities for women when sex-based barriers to hiring for those jobs are removed,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Kenneth L. Bird.

“Walmart operates 44 grocery distribution centers nationwide. Elimination of the PAT will allow more women to obtain a relatively high-paying entry-level position at one of these centers – a necessary first-step toward advancement,” added EEOC Senior Trial Attorney Aimee L. McFerren.

The Louisville Area Office of the EEOC is part of the EEOC’s Indianapolis District, with jurisdiction over Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and parts of Ohio.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov. Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

This blog was originally published by the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission on September 10, 2020. Reprinted with permission.


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Wage gap between blacks and whites is larger today than it was 40 years ago

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It’s near impossible for black Americans to achieve parity with their white counterparts in the labor market, according to two new studies which show that they are underpaid and discriminated against throughout the hiring process.

Earlier in September, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco reported that the wage gap between black and white Americans is increasing, based on findings from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 1979, the average black American man made 80 cents on the dollar to what a white American man made; in 2016, he made just 70 cents on the dollar. There was a similar widening in wage gap for black and white women, who made 95 cents for every dollar an average white woman made in 1979, but only 82 cents in 2016.

“The findings point to persistent shortfalls in labor market outcomes for black men and women… that cannot be fully explained by differences in age, education, job type of location,” the report read. “Especially troubling is the growing unexplained portion of the divergence in earnings from blacks relative to whites.”

Economists are worried about the growing “unexplained portion of divergence,” which has grown from 8 percentage points in 1979 to 21 percentage points in 2016. The researchers note that factors such as “discrimination, differences in school quality, or differences in career opportunities – are likely to be playing a role in the persistence and widening of these gaps.”

But these wage disparities don’t even account for another major problem facing black Americans: getting a job in the first place. In another recent studyresearchers from Harvard, Northwestern University and the Institute for Social Research in Norway have found there has been no change in the level of hiring discrimination in more than 25 years.

The study sent out resumes with similar levels of education and experience, the only difference being the name – some resumes had stereotypically black and Latinx names while others had stereotypically white names. As a second part of the study, applicants with similar qualifications (but of different races) went in to apply for a job in person.

Researchers concluded that, on average, a white job applicant was 36 percent more likely to receive a callback for an opening than an equally qualified African-American candidate. White job seekers also received 24 percent more callbacks than equally qualified Latinx candidates. “These findings lead us to temper our optimism regarding racial progress in the United States,” the study read. “At one time it was assumed that the gradual fade-out of prejudiced beliefs, through cohort replacement and cultural change, would drive a steady reduction in discrimination treatment. At least in the case of hiring discrimination against African-Americans, this expectation does not appear to have been born out.”

These two studies come only a week after new Census Bureau data showed the grim inequality that persists in American society. While there was an overall increase in median wealth for Americans, African-American and Latinx families still lagged far behind. An average white families now earns around $65,041, compared with $47,675 for a Hispanic family and $39,490 for an African-American family.

This article was originally published at ThinkProgress on September 18, 2017. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Luke Barnes is a reporter at ThinkProgress. He previously worked at MailOnline in the U.K., where he was sent to cover Belfast, Northern Ireland and Glasgow, Scotland. He graduated in 2015 from Columbia University with a degree in Political Science. He has also interned at Talking Points Memo, the Santa Cruz Sentinel and Narratively.


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Sometimes hiring discrimination is committed by a bigot—and sometimes it’s by standardized test

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You might think that a standardized test would be a way to eliminate discrimination from job hiring—everyone gets the same questions, and everyone’s answers are graded in the same way. But you’d be wrong. In fact, some standardized tests used widely by employers looking to screen job-seekers can be instruments of discrimination, Will Evans reports. One test alone caused illegal discrimination against more than 1,000 people, according to the Labor Department:

At a California factory for Leprino Foods Co., the world’s largest producer of mozzarella cheese, WorkKeys put 253 Latino, black and Asian applicants at a disadvantage, the department found. Leprino Foods eventually agreed to pay $550,000 and hire 13 of the rejected job seekers.

At a chemical plant in Virginia, an auto parts factory in upstate New York and an engine plant in Alabama, the tests also illegally screened out minority applicants, according to Labor Department records. At a General Electric Lighting plant in Ohio and an aluminum factory near Spokane, Washington, WorkKeys unfairly hurt the chances of female applicants, officials found.

The tests didn’t adequately measure whether an applicant would be good at the job, violating civil rights protections, according to the government. The employers paid a settlement to unsuccessful applicants and scrapped the tests.

But other employers—including local and state governments in many places—continue to use tests that aren’t relevant to the jobs they’re hiring for, potentially screening out people who are qualified for the jobs they’re trying to get.

While some workers have gotten settlements for the test-based discrimination they faced, they’re a drop in the bucket. And Evans’ story includes a warning for the future:

The cases faulting WorkKeys represent just a sample of potential problems in the job market, because the government agency that brings them audits a small fraction of federal contractors each year. That office could shrink under President Donald Trump, who has called for slashing the Labor Department budget overall by 21 percent.

Of course.

This blog was originally published at DailyKos.com on May 29, 2017. Reprinted with permission.

About the Author: Laura Clawson has been a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006 and labor editor since 2011.


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