A Different Slant on Class-Based Hiring Discrimination

Most employers are familiar with the pitfalls of discriminating against applicants in protected classes under Civil Rights laws. For the most part, African Americans, Hispanics and other minority groups experience the brunt of this type of discrimination. Some companies bend over backwards to accommodate Hispanic and Spanish-speaking job candidates so they can show diversity in hiring. However, recently a case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) had a different twist.

The EEOC charged Lawler Foods, Inc. and Lawler Foods, Ltd. in Houston, Texas with discrimination against African-American and non-Hispanic applicants.

Since 2007, Lawler staff who were hiring for the company had been telling non-Hispanic applicants that they could not hire them because they were not Hispanic or did not speak Spanish. Statistical and anecdotal evidence showed the following about Lawler Foods’ treatment of non-Hispanic applicants:
• Rude behavior towards them
• Making them wait endlessly for interviews while at the same time interviewing Hispanic applicants
• Non-Hispanic applicants typically having better qualifications of more education and more relevant work experience than Hispanic applicants, but not being hired
• Reliance on word-of-mouth hiring
• Advertising that indicated a preference for Spanish-speaking applicants

When the EEOC could not reach a settlement with Lawler Foods, it pursued a lawsuit, alleging that the Lawler companies were in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Company employers had excluded people on the basis of national origin or race, and this was, in effect, class-based recruitment.

Employers who face unusual employment situations should consult with an employment defense attorney to ensure their policies and hiring practices are in compliance with discrimination laws. Our attorneys at Stephen Hans & Associates have extensive experience as employment defense lawyers and can help you deal with employment related disputes and litigation.

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