On June 6, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that a Moline, Illinois-based manufacturer will pay over $1.1 million to settle a hiring discrimination case. Notably, the company’s discriminatory practices were mainly against Black and Hispanic applicants. Employers, however, must not discriminate against federally protected classes, which include race, sex, age, disability, and pregnancy status. Comparatively, the EEOC has ramped up its enforcement efforts in recent years. In November 2023, the agency released its Fiscal Year 2023 Agency Financial Report, announcing that systemic discrimination charges had doubled.

Background of the Hiring Discrimination Case

According to the lawsuit, the EEOC claimed that the company committed systemic hiring discrimination affecting Black and Hispanic applicants. Specifically, this illegal conduct occurred at three of the global manufacturer’s production facilities in Illinois and Iowa. Preliminary findings alleged discrimination against:

  • 33 Black and 12 Hispanic applicants for warehouse positions in Milan, Illinois;
  • 36 Black applicants for assembler positions in Ankeny, Iowa; and
  • 196 Black applicants for production positions in Waterloo, Iowa.

Explicitly, such alleged conduct violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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 their 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 protects employees who object to discrimination from retaliation or any adverse employment action against an employee exercising their rights.

Penalties in the Hiring Discrimination Case

Markedly, to resolve the allegations, the company will pay affected job applicants $1,105,000 in back wages and interest. Additionally, the manufacturer will provide 53 job offers to eligible class members. Finally, as part of the agreement, the Moline-based company will also evaluate its personnel practices. This includes its recordkeeping and internal auditing procedures.

Employer Takeaways

State, federal, and local laws prohibit hiring discrimination against job candidates based on protected characteristics. These protected characteristics include sex, gender, age, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, pregnancy, disability, military status, and/or marital status. Any illegal interview question that elicits information about a protected characteristic under anti-discrimination laws may be used as evidence of an unlawful preference or bias. Additionally, employers must provide specific forms and notices to new hires under state & federal laws and maintain certain records created during the hiring process. These may include tax & employment eligibility forms, written disclosures about harassment, workers’ compensation, paydays, and paid leave benefits.

For this reason, Personnel Concepts created the Hiring and Onboarding Digital Compliance Bundle. This collection of digital resources helps employers ensure that their hiring and onboarding process complies with state and federal anti-discrimination laws, notification requirements, and documentation requirements.

The digital resource bundle includes Interviewing & Hiring Laws Training for Employers and Managers. This online, interactive training module trains business owners & managers on the difference between legal and illegal interview questions. Also included with the module are supplemental materials, including a downloadable collection of pre-written interview questions. (Customers may also purchase this training module separately.)