Employment Discrimination and Negative Disparate Impact A-Level Coursework

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Human Resources: Equal Employment Opportunity & HRM2

Gelato Cheese Company employs 100 workers at its principal processing plant, with 85% of its workforce between the ages of 25 and 35. Furthermore, Gelato's requires a high school diploma for employment on its cleaning crew and the entire cleaning crew is white, though the local community's population is 50% white, 25% African-American and 25% other racial minorities. The requirements of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, subsequent cases and interpretations all require Gelato to make changes in its recruitment and hiring policies and practices.

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A-Level Coursework on Employment Discrimination and Negative Disparate Impact Assignment

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination against individuals based on several categories, including but not limited to race (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2014). The seminal case involving the diploma requirement for employment and, indeed, regarding discriminatory disparate treatment of job applicants and employees under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is Griggs v. Duke Power Company, 401 U.S. 424 (1971) (Thomson Reuters, 1971). Duke Power Company was a North Carolina company that systematically discriminated against African-Americans and reacted to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by imposing the requirement that anyone working in a position higher than its labor department must either have a high school diploma or achieve a score on a standard IQ test equal to or better than an average high school graduate. The new requirements clearly had a disparate impact on African-Americans: local African-Americans had a far lower high school diploma rate than did whites; though the requirement might appear benign on its face, it effectively disqualified them from better positions at the plant at a significantly higher rate than whites; and Duke did not establish that the new requirements successfully gauged abilities to perform the better jobs. In fact, white employees hired before the new requirements were obviously able to perform the higher jobs satisfactorily, so there was no demonstrably fair reason for imposing the new requirements. Duke Power was subsequently sued for racial discrimination and the U.S. Supreme Court decided against Duke Power, stating that Title VII "proscribes not only overt discrimination but also practices that are fair in form, but discriminatory in operation" (Thomson Reuters, 1971), and "What Congress has commanded is that any tests used must measure the person for the job and not the person in the abstract" (Thomson Reuters, 1971). Consequently, employment practices that operate to exclude racial minorities are prohibited unless the employer can show that the practice meets a true business need and is a valid gauge of the applicant's capacity to learn and perform the job (Thomson Reuters, 1971). The standards provided by Griggs v. Duke Power Company have been consistently upheld in the ensuing decades.

Gelato's current policies have an adverse disparate impact on minorities and apparently conflict with Title VII (Bereman, 2008). Despite the 50% racial minority makeup of the surrounding community, Gelato's entire cleaning crew is white. Furthermore, it does not appear that a high school diploma would be required to work on a cleaning crew, even as only 25% of local racial minority members have high school diplomas while 75% of local whites have high school diplomas. Consequently, if Gelato Cheese intends to impose the high school diploma requirement for its cleaning crew, it will have to show that the diploma requirement fulfills an actual business need for the cleaning crew and that the diploma requirement will validly gauge an applicant's ability to learn and perform his/her job as a member of the cleaning crew, particularly given the relatively low percentage of local racial minorities who have high school diplomas.

b. Policy changes to ensure compliance with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act

At a minimum, Gelato will need to either eliminate the high school diploma requirement for its cleaning crew or show that the diploma requirement fulfills an actual business need for the cleaning crew and that the diploma requirement will validly gauge an applicant's ability to learn and perform his/her job as a member of the cleaning crew, particularly given the relatively low percentage of local racial minorities who have high school diplomas. Since it is hard to imagine that cleaning crew members need high school diplomas, Gelato would be well advised to eliminate that requirement altogether. Secondly, Gelato is currently a "white bread" company in a community sea of minorities; consequently, the company will need to re-evaluate requirements for each job at its facility and rework its recruiting and hiring policies and practices to phase in minority applicants compatible with the community's population (Anonymous, How to fight workplace discrimination: Tips from EEOC lawyers, 2008), reportedly 50% white, 25% African-American and 25% other minorities. This exercise did not touch on the protected classes of religion, disability, gender, etc.; however, Gelato should also review and rework its hiring policies and practices to phase in all other classes protected by Title VII. In doing so, Gelato will have made a reasonable accommodation for the minorities in its community (DFEH, 2009) and should be able to avoid any successful discrimination actions against the company.

c. Changes That Should Be Made for the ADEA

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 2014) protects employees or potential employees between ages 40 and 70 regarding employers with 20 or more employees (and no upper age limit for federal employees). Furthermore, through the Act's wording and subsequent cases, "age discrimination" focuses on "hiring, firing, wage benefits, hours worked, and availability of overtime" (Anonymous, Take a policy approach to fight discrimination claims, 2009). Given the Act's broad application, it clearly applies to Gelato, which employs 100 people, 85% being 25 -- 35 years old. Depending on the composition of the surrounding community, it may be that Gelato is consciously or unwittingly discriminating against older workers. Consequently, Gelato should analyze the community in terms of age ranges, including the age ranges encompassing ages 40 -- 70 years. If Gelato finds that the ages of its workforce do not reflect the composition of the surrounding community, Gelato should institute recruiting and hiring policies that phase in age ranges compatible with those of the surrounding community, making a reasonable accommodation for older prospective and current employees (DFEH, 2009). In that way, Gelato will sidestep and even combat the problem of age discrimination in its workforce.

3. Conclusion

Gelato Cheese Company's policies clearly have an adverse disparate impact on minorities and appear to be in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967. The seminal case regarding Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is Griggs v. Duke Power Company, 401 U.S. 424 (1971), in which the U.S. Supreme Court found that employment practices that operate to exclude racial minorities are prohibited unless the employer can show that the practice meets a true business need and is a valid gauge of the applicant's capacity to learn and perform the job. Gelato will need to either eliminate the high school diploma requirement for its cleaning crew or show that the diploma requirement fulfills an actual business need for the cleaning crew and that the diploma requirement will validly gauge an applicant's ability to learn and perform his/her job as a member of the cleaning crew. Furthermore, Gelato will need to re-evaluate requirements for each job at its facility and rework its hiring policies and practices to phase in minority applicants to reflect the community's population, reportedly 50% white, 25% African-American and 25% other minorities.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 protects employees or potential employees between ages 40 and 70 regarding employers with 20 or more employees,… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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