EEOC Said Apprenticeship Test Discriminated Against Hundreds of Black Workers
CINCINNATI – Ford Motor Co., along with two related companies and a national union, will pay $1.6 million and provide other remedial relief to a class of nearly 700 African Americans to settle a major race discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
The EEOC had charged in the litigation that a written test used by Ford, Visteon and Automotive Components Holdings (ACH) to determine the eligibility of hourly employees for a skilled trades apprenticeship program had a disproportionately negative impact on African Americans. The National United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) was also a defendant in the case because the test was used to select apprentices in the Ford-UAW Joint Apprenticeship Program and the lawsuit settlement affects people covered by the union agreement.
The comprehensive relief obtained by the EEOC includes about $1.6 million for the class of nearly 700 African Americans nationwide who have taken the test since January 1, 1997, and were not placed on the Ford apprentice list at the former Visteon facilities. Non-monetary relief includes placing 55 African American test takers on the apprentice lists and the development, by a jointly selected expert, of a new selection method for the apprenticeship program together with detailed reporting and monitoring provisions.
“We are pleased this settlement will address the serious problem of selection criteria that result in racial minorities receiving fewer job opportunities,” said EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp. “Apprenticeship programs are a ladder to skilled, high-paying jobs and every group should be able to climb that ladder based on genuine abilities.”
The settlement, which was preliminarily approved by the court on September 9, 2007, is pending final approval by U.S. District Court Senior Judge Spiegel of the Southern District of Ohio. Upon approval by the court, the settlement will resolve the EEOC’s suit against Ford, Visteon and ACH and will also resolve the class members’ suit against Ford, Visteon, ACH and the UAW.
This suit is a successor case to the EEOC’s earlier suit against Ford and UAW which was settled for $8.5 million in 2005 and covers additional people disadvantaged by the test in question who were not covered in that settlement. On December 3, 2007, the EEOC issued a new Employment Testing Fact Sheet which cites the Ford case. The fact sheet is available on the EEOC’s web site at www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/factemployment_procedures.html.
“The EEOC is pleased to have been able to work cooperatively with Ford and the UAW in reaching a mutually satisfactory resolution to this matter,” said EEOC Regional Attorney Jacqueline McNair. “Employers must consider how all aspects of selection processes including written tests may adversely impact members of a particular demographic group.”
On Feb. 28, 2007, Chair Earp launched the Commission’s E-RACE Initiative (Eradicating Racism And Colorism from Employment), a national outreach, education, and enforcement campaign to raise public awareness about new and emerging race and color issues in the 21st century workplace. Further information about the E-RACE Initiative is available on the EEOC’s web site at http://www.eeoc.gov/initiatives/e-race/index.html.
In Fiscal Year 2006, the EEOC received 27,238 charges alleging race-based discrimination, accounting for 36 percent of the agency’s private sector caseload. Historically, race-based charges have been the most frequent type of filing with EEOC offices nationwide.
The EEOC enforces the federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.