Target Pays $2.8 Million To Settle Discrimination Lawsuit

Target (No. 25 on DiversityInc’s 2015 Top 50 Companies for Diversity) has agreed to pay $2.8 million in a discrimination suit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the agency revealed Monday.

According to the EEOC, it was discovered in 2006 that some of Target’s employment assessments, which the EEOC described as “not sufficiently job-related and consistent with business necessity, and thus violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” disproportionately screened out applicants based on race and/or gender.

The agency also found that, as part of the pre-hiring process, consultants who were also psychologists were brought in to perform assessments on applicants a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which dictates that medical exams can only occur following a job offer. In addition, the EEOC alleged that Target did not maintain appropriate records to analyze the effects of its hiring processes.

Upon the EEOC’s initial investigation, Target immediately chose to stop using the assessments in question. Target also agreed to more closely monitor its hiring practices as well as any potential impacts they have. These results will be given to the EEOC. After quickly complying with the EEOC, Target believed a settlement would be the easiest solution for both parties rather than litigating the case.

“We continue to firmly believe that no improper behavior occurred regarding these assessments,” Target spokesperson Molly Snyder said in a statement, saying also the EEOC’s findings “concluded that only a small fraction of the assessments during the relevant time period could have been problematic.”

Of Target’s pre-hiring assessments, the EEOC only cited three in its findings.

Snyder also added that while several thousand people were affected, this is out “of the tens of millions of applicants who applied for positions with Target over the past decade.” And these affects were adverse “[the EEOC] did not find that there were any disparities in Target’s actual hiring.”

Target has been one of DiversityInc’s Top 50 Companies for Diversity since 2010. According to Luke Visconti, founder and CEO of DiversityInc, Target appropriately handled the situation. “Although any EEOC decision is serious, the consultants who provided the services at issue were stopped years ago,” he said. “Bad things happen to good companies; what I look for is how the company handles them and what the overall Top 50 data tells us about how effective the company’s diversity management is. Target is a fine place to build a career.”

Brian Cornell, Target’s CEO, has said that diversity is a priority for his company: “Diversity and inclusivity play critically important roles in organizations like ours that serve consumers and guests. Providing a work environment where all feel welcome, respected and valued for their unique backgrounds translates into a meaningful and engaging guest experience. Diversity and inclusivity make our team and Target better for our guests and communities.”

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