May 3rd, 2020

A federal judge dismissed a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that a hiring policy by test preparation company Kaplan discriminated against African American applicants. The test preparation company reviewed the credit history of job applicants and declined to hire those with imperfect credit histories.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission argued that the policy was discriminatory, affecting African American job applicants more than other groups and evaluating employees on a factor that was not directly relevant to how they would perform on the job.

Without determining whether or this was truly the case, the court granted the employer’s motion to exclude evidence presented by an expert witness showing which applicants were in fact black. Without that evidence, the EEOC lacked sufficient proof that the policy was discriminatory, according to the judge’s opinion in this case.

The EEOC may still pursue the case if they can find additional evidence that the policy was discriminatory.

This case is a good example of a hiring policy with a discriminatory effect. This means that although the policy doesn’t explicitly state that the company doesn’t want to hire a certain group of applicants, the way that it is implemented results in fewer people of a certain group being hired. Sometimes this type of discrimination is harder to prove when it impacts a small number of people since patterns can be more difficult to detect.

Job applicants who think they have been rejected based simply on their race have a right to seek compensation and culpability from companies that perpetuate discriminatory practices.

Source: New York Times, “Judge Dismisses Federal Suit Over Credit Histories in Hiring,” Steven Greenhouse, Jan. 29, 2013.

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