A Reminder Why EEOC Will Focus on Discrimination in Hiring This Year

By Eric B. Meyer

Same stuff; different year.

In 2010, an Ohio temp agency paid $650,000 as part of a Consent Agreement with the EEOC to settle claims that it had used code words in considering and assigning (or declining) job applicants. The code include words such as “chocolate cupcake” for young African American women, “hockey player” for young white males, “figure skater” for white females, “basketball player” for black males, and “small hands” for women in general.

Fast forward to today …

Cameron Langford at Courthouse News Service reports that a Human Resources Manager just sued her former employer, a Texas temp agency, for what she claims was a wrongful discharge. Specifically, she alleges that she was fired after opposing the use of code words to fill placements. According to the article, the code words used included:

  • “Blue eyes” and “no sunscreen” = African-American;
  • Work all day” = Hispanic;
  • “Heavy lifting” = men (i.e., not women);
  • “Energetic” = young (i.e., not old).


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It’s no wonder that the EEOC will emphasize addressing discrimination in hiring over the next several years. Assuming that your business isn’t using code words — because you’re not total scumbags — now is the time to review other hiring criteria to make sure they do not disparately impact a particular protected class and are otherwise truly business-related.

Or, you can just wait until the EEOC comes knocking at your door. Your choice.

This was originally published on Eric B. Meyer’s blog, The Employer Handbook.

You know that scientist in the action movie who has all the right answers if only the government would just pay attention? Eric B. Meyer, Esq. gets companies HR-compliant before the action sequence. Serving clients nationwide, Eric is a Partner at FisherBroyles, LLP, which is the largest full-service, cloud-based law firm in the world, with approximately 210 attorneys in 21 offices nationwide. Eric is also a volunteer EEOC mediator, a paid private mediator, and publisher of The Employer Handbook (www.TheEmployerHandbook.com), which is pretty much the best employment law blog ever. That, and he's been quoted in the British tabloids. #Bucketlist.


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