Employment Law Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law and HR

Sep 17, 2013

Federal contractor settles retaliation charges for more than $372,000

Affirmative Action 

An employer with federal contracts agreed to pay $372,739 to settle claims that it gave minority workers unequal training in retaliation for being forced to hire them in the wake of an affirmative action audit.

An employer with federal contracts agreed to pay $372,739 to settle claims that it gave minority workers unequal training in retaliation for being forced to hire them in the wake of an affirmative action audit. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) had previously found that Tufts Associated Health Plans Inc.’s hiring process for customer service representatives discriminated against minority workers. The company agreed to hire minorities, but one of the individuals later complained to OFCCP after being terminated less than a year later. The agency investigated, and found that the company had retaliated against 12 Asian, Hispanic, and African American workers who were hired as a result of the OFCCP’s affirmative action audit. According to the agency, the company segregated those workers and applied different standards in the timing, application, and implementation of its training program for customer service reps, eventually resulting in their termination. Now the company must compensate the employees for their lost wages. The company also agreed to train its managers and trainers regarding their obligations to ensure equal employment opportunity and avoid retaliation for protected activity.

Tips: Just because an affirmative action audit is behind you doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods. In addition to having a consistent training program for new hires, it’s wise for employers to have a regular process for checking in. You need to know whether each individual is really absorbing the new information and skills you’ve communicated. If there are areas of frustration or confusion, it’s better to find out early so you can address those issues before it’s too late. Keep in mind this applies for all ethnicities/races and for both men and women, as well as protected veterans and people with disabilities. Vigilant offers several training programs that may be helpful to your supervisors on coaching-related topics. See our online catalog of leadership development classes. And if you’re selected for an audit of your affirmative action plan (AAP), contact your Vigilant affirmative action representative immediately! To learn more about our affirmative action services and how we help employers maintain compliant plans, see our blog or brochure.

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