OFCCP Sues Contractor for Hiring Bias Against Men

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By Jay-Anne Casuga

Dec. 9 — The Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has filed an administrative complaint against an Indiana portable meal manufacturer alleging it discriminated against male applicants seeking entry-level production jobs, the DOL announced Dec. 9.

The complaint is the OFCCP's second administrative action against a federal contractor so far in fiscal year 2016; the first was against chicken producer Pilgrim's Pride Corp. (197 DLR A-2, 10/13/15). Generally, the OFCCP files only a handful of administrative complaints each fiscal year. In fiscal 2015, it filed complaints against five federal contractors.

In the present action, the DOL said, the OFCCP investigated AmeriQual Group LLC's facility in Evansville, Ind. The government alleges the company unlawfully “segregated its production line workforce” by basing work assignments on sex stereotypes.

As a result, AmeriQual discriminated against a class of 237 male applicants in violation of Executive Order 11,246, the OFCCP said.

“Through interviews with company officials and employees, OFCCP investigators learned women were selected for table inspector jobs, where a majority of the hiring occurred, while men were relegated generally to loader and utility positions, where less hiring took place,” the DOL said. “Although there was a significantly larger male applicant pool, AmeriQual disproportionately selected women over men.”

Additionally, the agency said AmeriQual improperly “attempted to create after-the-fact justifications for failing to hire male applicants by making notations on ‘sticky notes' and other documents and then adding them to files.”

The Labor Department said the OFCCP will seek back wages for class members, as well as job offers for 27 male applicants who were rejected for entry-level jobs.

AmeriQual representatives didn't immediately respond to Bloomberg BNA's Dec. 9 request for comment.

The company since January 2010 has held federal contracts with the Defense Department and other agencies worth more than $700 million, the DOL said. AmeriQual's products include the U.S. military's Meals Ready to Eat.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jay-Anne Casuga in Washington at jcasuga@bna.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com.