A provider of in-home care in Spokane, Washington, agreed to pay $92,059 to settle allegations of gender discrimination in its hiring process following an affirmative action audit by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
A provider of in-home care in Spokane, Washington, agreed to pay $92,059 to settle allegations of gender discrimination in its hiring process following an affirmative action audit by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). ResCare HomeCare Spokane explained that most of its clients were female, and preferred female caregivers. But the OFCCP found that most client care plans contained no gender preference. When the OFCCP contacted a sampling of those clients, nearly half the female clients said they had no gender preference for their caregivers. As a result, the agency concluded that the company unlawfully discriminated against male job applicants. The settlement, which represents back pay and interest for those who should have been hired, will be shared among 77 unsuccessful male applicants. The company agreed to hire eight of the men as openings occur, and to monitor its employment practices going forward.
Tips: This case offers useful insights for employers with federal contracts:
Men, as well as women, are protected from gender discrimination in the workplace. When investigating a federal contractor’s hiring practices, the OFCCP will analyze whether one protected class (by race/ethnicity or gender) is disproportionately favored over another. Although the agency most commonly finds discrimination against women or minorities, there are some situations (such as in health care) where the opposite may be true.
Ordinarily, client preference isn’t a valid defense to employment discrimination. But in the case of gender, an exception may be made if the employer can show that gender is a bona fide occupational qualification. Because of the need to respect a client’s sense of privacy in intimate personal care, courts and government agencies are willing to take client preference for the gender of the caregiver into account in appropriate situations.
This settlement illustrates how a federal contract in one branch of an employer’s business will generally result in affirmative action obligations across the entire company, even at branches unrelated to the federal contract. The parent company, ResCare, operates several different businesses, one of which is ResCare HomeCare, which was audited. But the federal dollars flowing into ResCare came from a different line of business: ResCare Workforce Services, which operates 15 Job Corps centers across the country for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.
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