U.S. Department of Labor Administrative Law Judge Linda S. Chapman has ordered Bank of America Corp. to pay 1,147 African American job applicants nearly $2.2 million in back wages and interest for race-based hiring discrimination at the company’s Charlotte facility.
In an earlier ruling, the judge determined that the bank applied unfair and inconsistent selection criteria resulting in the rejection of qualified African American applicants for teller and entry-level clerical and administrative positions. The ruling represents a major victory in a case that has spanned nearly two decades, during which Bank of America repeatedly challenged the authority of the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Bank of America is a federally-insured financial institution that provides a variety services and products, making it a federal contractor under the purview of OFCCP’s regulatory requirements.
“Wherever doors of opportunity are unfairly closed to workers, we will be there to open them – no matter how long it takes,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. “Judge Chapman’s decision upholds the legal principle of making victims of discrimination whole, and these workers deserve to get the full measure of what is owed to them.”
The ruling awards $964,033 to 1,034 applicants who were rejected for jobs in 1993 and $1,217,560 to 113 individuals who were rejected between 2002 and 2005. It further orders Bank of America to extend job offers, with appropriate seniority, to 10 class members as positions become available. After hearing from experts on both sides, the judge agreed with the government’s positions on every issue in dispute. Notably, she rejected the bank’s arguments for a lower award on the grounds that they could not take advantage of missing records that they had failed to keep.
On Nov. 24, 1993, OFCCP initiated a routine compliance review that revealed indications of systemic hiring discrimination affecting African American job seekers at the Charlotte facility. After conciliation efforts failed, the Solicitor of Labor in 1997 filed an administrative complaint against the company for violating Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment practices on the basis of race.
“Our investigators and attorneys prevailed despite decades of stalling tactics,” said Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith. “This case demonstrates that the department will not be deterred in our pursuit of justice for job seekers.”