Written By Digital Content Editor Thomas Ahearn

On October 3, 2022, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that a Buffalo-based staffing firm that places employees with clients in Western New York agreed to pay $550,000 to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC, according to a press release from the EEOC.

According to EEOC’s lawsuit, the staffing firm “either refused to hire highly qualified Black applicants or placed them in the lowest paying, least desirable jobs; complied with clients’ race and sex preferences; placed employees in positions based on race and sex; and rejected pregnant applicants,” the press release stated.

The EEOC alleged that applicants over the age of 50 were routinely rejected, improperly asked about injuries and medical conditions, and rejected if the company deemed them disabled. The EEOC charged that an office manager for the company complained about the illegal hiring practices but was warned she would be fired.

The EEOC claimed that the hiring practices of the staffing firm violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967, which prohibit dis­crimination on the basis of age, disability, race, or sex, as well as retaliation.

The three-year consent decree settling the suit provides $475,000 to be distributed to applicants and employees who were subjected to discriminatory practices by the staffing company. The decree also provides for significant non-monetary relief designed to prevent further discrimination.

The staffing company will also pay $75,000 to retain an independent monitor to regularly review its hiring and placement decisions to ensure they are legal, provide its owner and internal staff with extensive anti-discrimination training, and investigate complaints of discrimination.

“The law is clear that complying with a client’s discriminatory request is illegal,” Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for EEOC’s New York District Office stated in the press release about the settlement. “Staffing companies cannot prioritize clients’ discriminatory preferences over following the law.”

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. The EEOC offers information about race and color discrimination, sex discrimination, national origin discrimination, and disability discrimination. To learn more about the EEOC, visit www.eeoc.gov.

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