This month, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that a Buffalo, New York-based staffing company will pay $550,000 to settle a hiring discrimination lawsuit. Notably, the company’s discriminatory practices were against a staggeringly wide range of federally-protected classes. This included race, sex, age, disability, and pregnancy status discrimination. The EEOC has ramped up its enforcement efforts as of late. In September 2022, the agency cracked down heavily on workplace disability discrimination, filing three separate lawsuits against employers in New York City, Florida, and Maryland.

Background of the Hiring Discrimination Lawsuit

According to the hiring discrimination lawsuit, the staffing company refused to hire black applicants who were highly qualified for the positions they applied for. Any black applicants the company did take on were placed in the least desirable, lowest-paying jobs. Furthermore, the staffing company failed to comply with their clients’ race and sex preferences and placed employees in positions according to their race or sex. The company also illegally asked applicants about injuries and medical conditions, rejecting the applicants if the company perceived they were disabled. Additionally, the company rejected applicants over the age of 50 and pregnant applicants altogether.

What’s more, an office manager for the company complained about the ongoing hiring discrimination. In response, the company warned her that they would fire her in retaliation if she did not comply with the discriminatory practices. Subsequently, the hiring manager resigned from her position.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. The law makes it clear that it is unlawful for an employer to:

  • fail or refuse to hire an applicant,
  • discharge any employee, or
  • otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to his or her compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of the individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

In addition, the law requires employers to reasonably try to prevent and correct the behavior. Finally, Title VII also protects employees who object to discrimination from retaliation or any adverse employment action against an employee exercising their rights.

Penalties in the Hiring Discrimination Lawsuit

In EEOC v. Staffing Solutions of WNY, Inc., filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York, the court settled the suit with a three-year consent decree. Under a consent decree, the staffing company will pay $475,000 to applicants and employees who are claimants under the hiring discrimination lawsuit. Additionally, the company will pay $75,000 to keep an independent monitor to review its hiring and placement decisions and ensure compliance with equal employment opportunity (EEO) laws. The independent monitor will also ensure that the company’s owner and internal staff complete anti-discrimination training. They will also aid in investigating future complaints of discrimination and adopt an anti-discrimination policy. Finally, the decree requires the owner to send a letter to all clients stating that the company will follow all federal EEO laws and injunctions against future hiring discrimination.