WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today that it has entered into contracts with the Fair Employment Council of Greater Washington, D.C., and the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago to conduct pilot projects to study the use of employment "testers" to detect hiring discrimination. The localities in which the pilots will be conducted have not yet been selected.
Explaining that testers have been successfully used for years in areas such as housing and lending, EEOC Chairman Gilbert F. Casellas said: "Using employment testers in a carefully controlled manner is an important tool for measuring the presence or absence of discrimination. If we can shed light on barriers to fair hiring in entry-level jobs, which are the gateway to self-sufficiency and economic independence, we will have made an important step in assuring equal opportunity for everyone."
Casellas continued: "Hiring discrimination can be especially difficult to detect. Applicants often do not know how they are being treated in comparison to others who are equally qualified. Interviewers may also be unaware that they may judge some people more harshly because of their race, gender, ethnicity, disability, or age. Because it can often be difficult to discern, hiring discrimination often slips through undetected."
Employment discrimination testing involves carefully matching individuals so that their job qualifications and other relevant characteristics are comparable. The tester pairs differ only with regard to the characteristic being tested: race, gender, national origin, age, or disability. Tester pairs then apply for entry-level jobs, and their treatment by the prospective employer is carefully compared. If there is unequal treatment, other pairs may be sent in to determine whether or not there is a pattern of conduct that shows discrimination. The EEOC, through its technical assistance and education program, will also rely on the results of the testers initiative to help employers design non-discriminatory hiring procedures.
EEOC enforces Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act; the Equal Pay Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in the private sector and in state and local governments; the Rehabilitation Act's prohibitions against disability discrimination in the federal government; and sections of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.