When we hear about discrimination in hiring practices, we usually think of discrimination against racial minorities, or people with disabilities, or discrimination based on sexual orientation. But so-called reverse discrimination, where white people are denied jobs simply based on their race is becoming more of an issue. A few years ago there was a much publicized case in which an exam that was given to New Haven, CT firefighters as part of the promotion process was thrown out because not enough minorities passed. The white firefighters who had passed sued, saying their rights were violated, and eventually the Supreme Court agreed with them.
Race is always a tense issue in our country, but with unemployment hovering around 9 percent, the scarcity of jobs leads to even more resentment and more intense scrutiny of any lack of fairness in a company’s hiring practices.
While some might suspect that the government turns a blind eye to employment discrimination against white people (and some might even argue that they should, given the much higher than average unemployment rate among many minority groups), at least one recent case shows the government, specifically the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), is unwilling to ignore it.
According to an EEOC lawsuit, the Merrillville, Indiana location of Dots clothing stores denied jobs on a systemic basis to white applicants since at least April 1, 2007. During that time, the EEOC contended, Dots regularly hired black entry-level applicants for sales positions, but excluded white applicants who were equally or better qualified.
Dots, Inc., a national women’s off-priced clothing retailer, will pay $246,500 and furnish other relief to settle the suit.
“We hope that this is a wake-up call for Dots and other employers who believe that they are in compliance with the law if they hire minority applicants while excluding white applicants,” said EEOC Indianapolis Regional Attorney Laurie A. Young.