More than 250 minority applicants of Leprino Foods Inc. will receive part of a $550,000 settlement agreement between the Denver-based company and the United States Department of Labor. The DOL accused the company of systematic discriminatory hiring practices when it rejected 253 minority applicants. The agreement settles the DOL's allegations that the use of "WorkKeys," a pre-employment screening test, was discriminatory.
The DOL's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs found that the tests were in violation of Executive Order 11246, which prevents federal contractors and subcontractors from employment discrimination based on race. Since 2005, Leprino Foods has received almost $50 million in contracts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm Services Agency.
An investigation conducted by the agency found that the use of the WorkKeys test adversely impacted minority applicants because the exam was not related to the jobs in which the applicants were applying. More than 250 minority workers will receive back pay, interest and benefits as part of the settlement. Because they had failed the WorkKeys test, all applicants were rejected for on-call labor positions between January 2005 and October of 2006.
The exam tested the mathematical skills, ability to locate information and observation skills of job applicants. The agency determined that those particular skills were not critical to performing the entry-level duties required by on-call laborers, such as inspecting products, maintaining sanitation requirements and monitoring equipment at the facility. Pre-employment screening tests are required to be relevant to the position in which the applicant is being considered.
As an employer if you are unsure of your pre-employment screening processes, consult with an employment law attorney who can review your processes and help ensure your business's compliance with Colorado and federal employment law statutes. An experienced employment law attorney can help you avoid costly litigation as well as strengthen your human resource policies and procedures for an even more successful business down the line.
Source: The Denver Post, "Denver-based Leprino to pay $550,000 to minority job applicants," Howard Pankratz, July 19, 2012
Our business and employment law practice is located in Denver, Colorado, and handles a variety of employment law cases, including employment discrimination similar to the issues involved in this post.