Friday, January 14, 2011

Staffing Agencies, Employers Covertly Violating Anti-Discrimination Laws

Laura Bassett has a very disturbing article on the Huffington Post about how employers and staffing agencies are getting around labor and anti-discrimination laws and the difficulty in proving it--unless a whistleblower comes forward. The article also touches on the other recent trend of job postings requiring an applicant to currently be employed to be considered. From the article:
"A lot of it's under the radar," Bob Rose, a supervisory trial attorney for the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said. "We had a case in Buffalo where a number of former full-time employees at a staffing firm came forward to tell us about how the agency complied with these discriminatory requests, using codewords for whites and codewords for blacks internally to mask some of it. If an employer submits a profile sheet to a staffing agency, we see them use a code on it so the employee who ends up filling the job knows, 'Oh, I can't send blacks,' or 'I can't send women.' There are all kinds of violations going on."
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A 53-year-old executive recruiter named Nick, who asked that his full name be withheld to protect his job, told HuffPost he has worked for major U.S. staffing firms since 1990. As an industry insider, Nick said, he became privy to the many ways companies and staffing firms sidestep labor laws.

"There's a lot of dirty stuff going on, a lot of hush-hush discrimination, I can assure you," he said. "As a recruiter, you get an HR director on the phone, and they tell you point blank, 'We want somebody in this age bracket, or this particular gender, currently has a job. We don't want to see a resume from anyone who's not working.' It happens all the time."

The article then discusses the potential problem with criteria requiring an applicant to be currently employed in that it potentially has a disparate impact on certain protected classes of people like minorities who are more likely to be unemployed for various reasons. There's already been at least one big lawsuit with a huge settlement payout because of discriminatory practices that were caught and proven and it's probably only a matter of time before an employer or staffing agency gets in trouble for the "must be employed" requirement.

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