Employment Law Daily Food service contractor’s strength test factors into $1.85M sex bias settlement
Friday, May 13, 2016

Food service contractor’s strength test factors into $1.85M sex bias settlement

Gordon Food Service, Inc. (GFS), based in Wyoming, Michigan, has agreed to pay a total of $1.85 million to 926 female applicants entry-level warehouse laborer jobs in Michigan, Wisconsin and Kentucky, the OFCCP announced on May 11. Following an investigation, the agency determined that the company systematically eliminated qualified women from the hiring process through various discriminatory means, including the unlawful use of the strength test. Although GFS has not admitted liability, it has entered into three conciliation agreements with the OFCCP to resolve the discrimination allegations. Under those agreements, GFS will also hire 37 female applicants and stop using the strength test that the OFCCP found to be discriminatory. GFS provides products to the U.S. Departments of Defense and Agriculture and to the Federal Prison System, according to the OFCCP statement. The women, who reside primarily in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, and Wisconsin, had applied for laborer positions at four warehouses in Brighton and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Investigators concluded that, as a result of what they found to be discriminatory hiring practices, the company hired only six females while hiring nearly 300 males throughout the investigation period. “Too often we find ‘tests’ like the one used in this case that exclude workers from jobs that they can in fact perform,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. “In this case, women were denied good-paying jobs. We are making sure that these women are compensated and that some are able to get the work they sought when positions become available.” Since 2010, GFS has won nearly $4.5 million in federal contracts to provide perishable and non-perishable foods, the OFCCP statement reports. GFS is one of North America’s largest food distribution companies with more than 170 U.S. locations. In addition to its government contracts, the company supplies restaurants, schools, universities and hospitals. In 2007, GFS settled charges of sex discrimination in hiring for similar entry-level labor jobs at its Grand Rapids and Brighton warehouses. In that case, the company provided $450,000 in back pay and interest to the affected women.

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