Rutgers settles race bias case with maintenance workers

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Four minority maintenance workers have settled their race discrimination case with Rutgers University.

The settlement was confidential, but The Star-Ledger filed a Freedom of Information Act request to view court papers. According to the newspaper, the workers—three black and one Hispanic—alleged they were consistently passed over for promotion in favor of white employees.

They claimed promotion tests contained biased questions, and that the interview process was open to subjective evaluation. The four allege that six white applicants all received identical high scores on their interviews even though they each answered questions differently.

Rutgers countered that the employees who received promotions had more experience and interviewed better than the four minority plaintiffs. Further, the university noted that one of the plaintiffs had previously been demoted from a supervisory position. That employee also had a chronic problem with tardiness.

Even so, Rutgers settled the case by paying each of the plaintiffs $71,875, plus legal fees of $300,000.

Note: When test results show minorities performing far worse than others, employers should evaluate test criteria to ensure they actually test candidates on their ability to perform the jobs they seek—and don’t discriminate.

Even after last year’s landmark Ricci v. DeStefano Supreme Court case in which New Haven, Conn., firefighters challenged a promotion test, employment testing continues to be a contentious issue.

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