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Newsletter Issue 5

Practical Approaches
to Resolving EEO/AA Problems
Issue #5
Unfairness Can Be Costly

Many times a finding of violation resulting from an EEOC complaint of discrimination involves a great deal more than a monetary settlement. A recent case, EEOC v. FedEX Freight East Inc, (10-31-05) is a good example. The case was settled with a Consent Decree.

The allegation of discrimination was originally entered against American Freightways, a company that was later purchased by FedEx. The complaints alleged that the company discriminated against 20 black employees in promotions, and work assignments and by tolerating a racially hostile work environment at its St. Louis facility. The suit alleged that the company distributed freight assignments along racial lines. White workers were assigned to unload pallet freight that was relatively easy-to-handle while black workers were forced to unload non-pellet or non-bulk freight, the most difficult, strenuous, and labor-intensive work because it had to be unloaded largely by hand. The complaint further alleges that black workers were denied training that would have made them eligible for advancement to driver or dispatcher and that there were racial remarks and insults made against black dock workers. The suit alleged that the hostile environment allegation included graffiti that was repeatedly found on bathroom walls, even after they had been painted over.

FedEx lost the case and had to pay the complainants $500,000 and had to submit to some rather severe reporting obligations. Some of the salient items were:

  • FedEx must submit quarterly a written report containing a list of those who worked during the preceding three-month period. The list was to include part-time and full-time dock workers as well as a list of all workers who became "city-drivers" during the preceding three-month period. The company had to disclose those workers addresses, telephone numbers, dates of hire, race, date they became full-time workers and the dates of their terminations, if appropriate.

  • For the next two years, FedEx has to submit a written survey to its part-time and full-time employees at its St. Louis facility every six months asking them if they believed that dock assignments are being allocated fairly. Employee responses to the survey are to be turned over to the EEOC counsel of record in the case.

  • FedEx agreed to produce "relevant documents and records" to EEOC upon request and provide the agency with written answers to any EEOC questions about its compliance with the decree.

Regardless of company size, it is always important to check all company operations to determine if discriminatory activities are present. It is not uncommon to believe that all company programs are in compliance while there is one or more operations of the company functioning as if they never heard of Title VII or other EEO laws. To discover this fact through the receipt of a complainant investigated by EEOC or OFCCP is an expensive and less than prudent manner of learning that a problem exists. There is a need for constant attention to EEO matters and a surveillance program that reviews company operations on a regular basis so that if and when a problem is discovered, corrective action can be taken immediately.

The principle that "An untrained manager is a disaster waiting to happen" applies to situations like this. Managers and supervisors must be trained to ensure they understand their responsibilities in EEO/Affirmative Action arena.

Training does not have to be an expensive, work-disrupting occasion. We have an Internet Training System that allows employees to take our certificate training courses any time, any where with an internet connection. The courses are self-paced, interactive, and accurately discuss the subjects covered by the law. With several administration options available, organizing and monitoring your workforce training is simple and effortless. We can have your company set up and ready to begin in no time. The time saved by avoiding work disruptions would more than pay for the training of supervisor or manager personnel.

Please visit our website at www.rplmri.com for a more thorough review of the services we offer.

A truism: "Employers are sued because they are inconsistent."
Always apply company policy in the same manner to all employees, at all times, even when they apply to your most favored employee.

Note: If you receive a letter of notification from the OFCCP that you are to be audited, call us immediately and fax us a copy of the letter.
Fax#: 280-1548

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