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The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission


Investment Management Giant Refused to Hire Black Applicant as Financial Planning Manager, Federal Agency Charges

PHILADELPHIA – Malvern, Pa.- based Vanguard Group, Inc., one of the world's largest investment management companies, violated federal law when it refused to hire an African American applicant because of her race, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, Barbara Alexander was the only African American applicant for a financial planning manager position at Vanguard’s Charlotte, N.C., office. She was well qualified for the position based on her 14 years of financial management experience and MBA in finance. The EEOC charges, however, that even though a company official told Alexander during the lengthy application process that she was “obviously qualified for the position.” The company later claimed it did not select her because she was “unqualified,” in part because she did not have a certified financial planner (CFP) certification. The EEOC says that race discrimination was the real reason Vanguard did not hire Alexander, because it hired a less qualified white applicant who also lacked a CFP certification and who, unlike Alexander, did not have work experience in financial planning.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC attempted to reach a voluntary settlement before filing suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Civil Action No.---- . The EEOC is seeking injunctive relief to prevent future discrimination, as well as back pay, and compensatory and punitive damages.

“Unfortunately, 45 years after enactment of the landmark Civil Rights Act, the EEOC continues to see far too many cases of race discrimination against African Americans,” said Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, and parts of New Jersey and Ohio. “This lawsuit should remind employers that the EEOC will take action when a company impermissibly makes hiring decisions based on the race of the applicants instead of on their experience and qualifications.”

According to its web site,, as of December 31, 2008, Vanguard had approximately $1 trillion in U.S. mutual funds and 12,500 employees in the United States.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at

This page was last modified on September 30, 2009.