Here’s another case we are following closely and has some important take-aways for the HR pros. In December, the EEOC sued a California based company for Hispanic-preference hiring, alleging the company turned away non-Hispanic applicants from entry-level positions, and favored less-qualified Hispanic job applicants over all other races (including black, white and Asian applicants) in unskilled positions. The EEOC further contends that Marquez Brothers discouraged non-Hispanic applicants from applying for open positions, asked applicants if they spoke Spanish even when speaking Spanish was not a job requirement, and otherwise deterred non-Hispanic applicants. (EEOC v. Marquez Brothers International, Inc., et al., Case No: 1:17-cv-00044-AWI-EPG) Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
It is alleged that, in some instances, applicants were spoken to in Spanish and asked if they could speak Spanish. When the applicant said no, his or her application was tossed under the table. The company was also unable to produce documents and records requested, and required to be kept in the regular course of business. Through the suit, the EEOC seeks back pay, benefits, and compensatory and punitive damages for a class of non-Hispanic applicants, as well as injunctive relief intended to prevent further discrimination by the companies.
We’ll be watching this, and other recent litigation, particularly as eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, has been one of six national priorities identified by the Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP). We are curious to know how aggressive those priorities will be under a new administration and departmental leadership.
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-Damon Elmore, NAAAHR Atlanta General Counsel
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