June 29, 2020

When the Client’s Not Nice, Don’t Pay the Price!

On June 29th, the U.S. EEOC announced a $568,500 settlement in a case of alleged race and sex discrimination.  The employer reportedly dis­criminated against black and female applicants and employees by refusing to send them on work assign­ments or by sending them for fewer work hours. In some instances, the EEOC contends the employer did so to honor the discriminatory requests of clients who did not want black workers or sought only men for certain assignments.

It wasn’t just the money. The two-and-a-half-year consent decree requires the employer to take a number of actions.

  • Adopt a process to identify qualified applicants or employees for temporary work assignments.
  • Inform applicants and employees how to complain of discrimination.
  • Create and maintain records of all applicant information.
  • Provide periodic reports to EEOC about its applicants, referrals, and any complaints of race or sex discrimination.
  • Train employees who are involved in the hiring and assignment process about Title VII.

Lessons Learned
: The customer is NOT always right! Employers in the service industries, government contractors and more are often faced with client, customer, patient or other third-party demands that impact their staffing and create liability. When a third party makes a request that is related to an employee’s protected status, whether it is based on preference or prejudice, pause before you acquiesce. Talk to the third party to understand the basis of their concern. Educate the third party about your EEO obligations. Tell the third party that you are an equal opportunity employer and will not make staffing or other employment decisions based on an individual’s sex, race, religion or other protected status when such a decision violates the law or is just not relevant to the services being provided.