U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Marcia Fudge, members of Congress from Ohio, have asked the Acting Comptroller of the United States and the Inspector General of the Department of Defense to investigate allegations of racial discrimination at the Cleveland facility of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS).
According to a statement released by Kucinich’s office, over 85% of workers recently suspended or terminated at Cleveland DFAS are black.
Employees allege that DFAS disciplined staff members who had fallen behind on their credit card obligations and racked up other debts. Kucinich noted in his statement that predatory lenders often target minorities; he said the DFAS actions reinforce such discriminatory behavior.
Final note: Sometimes policies that appear to be neutral affect minorities more than others. That can leave employers open to disparate-impact discrimination suits. If so, courts will look at the situation to determine if the employer had other options that would have affected minorities less severely, while still accomplishing the policy’s goal.
Advice: When deciding on discipline, examine all your options and be ready to substantiate that the course you chose is the one that hurt minorities least while still serving its purpose. That due diligence will help show that you considered the impact on minorities and sought to minimize disparate impact before enacting the policy.