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Target settles for $2.8M for workplace discrimination charges

Retail giant Target hires thousands of employees each year in Massachusetts and across the country. Not everyone who applies will be eligible for a position, but each candidate should only be eliminated by legal means. To choose the best candidate, Target uses pre-employment testing. Recently the company has been accused of workplace discrimination because of some of the tests that it uses.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had heard of possible violations, and it conducted an investigation. The findings determined that some of the testing was in violation of discrimination laws. It was also found that Target did not keep adequate records to see how its testing impacted who was hired.

One of the tests was given to applicants who were interested in exempt positions. This test was found to rule out an unfair number of Asian, black and female candidates; the test was also unnecessary and violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Another test was conducted by psychiatrists who would ask the applicants questions and then analyze their answers, which were reported to Target. It was determined that these tests were in violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Target settled the workplace discrimination charges with the EEOC for $2.8 million, which would be paid out to the impacted applicants. The company decided that it would be too costly to continue on with the case and that the tests in question were no longer being conducted. To ensure compliance in the future, Target will change how it obtains data and will observe how it impacts hiring decisions based on protected statuses and report the findings to the EEOC yearly. Employers in Massachusetts and elsewhere must be mindful of the pre-employment tests they use to ensure that the tests are in compliance with state, federal and/or local EEOC laws. Applicants who believe they were denied a position because the tests that were administered were in violation of discrimination laws may consider pursuing legal actions.

Source: Fortune, "Target to pay $2.8 million for hiring discrimination charges", Claire Zillman, Aug. 28, 2015

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