$1.85 Million Settlement for Female Applicants of a Federal Food Service Contractor Which Systematically Discriminated Against Qualified Women

 
Thursday, May 12, 2016
 
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has determined for a second time that a Michigan-based, federal food service contractor systematically discriminated against 926 qualified women seeking entry-level warehouse laborer jobs.

In agreements with the department, Gordon Food Service, Inc. of Wyoming will pay a total of $1.85 million to female applicants, hire 37 female applicants and stop using a strength test that OFCCP found to be discriminatory.

An OFCCP investigation of GFS, which has not admitted liability, found that the company systematically eliminated qualified women from the hiring process through various discriminatory means, including the unlawful use of the strength test. The women had applied for laborer positions at four warehouses in Brighton and Grand Rapids, Michigan; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Investigators determined the company’s discriminatory hiring practices resulted in the hiring of only six females while GFS hired nearly 300 males throughout the investigation period.

GFS, which provides products to the U.S. Departments of Defense and Agriculture and to the Federal Prison System, has entered into three conciliation agreements to resolve the discrimination findings. The women affected by the alleged discrimination reside primarily in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Wisconsin.

In 2007, GFS settled charges of sex discrimination in hiring for similar entry-level labor jobs at its Grand Rapids and Brighton warehouses. In that case, the company provided $450,000 in back pay and interest to the affected women.

Since 2010, GFS has won nearly $4.5 million in federal contracts to provide perishable and non-perishable foods. GFS is one of North America’s largest food distribution companies with more than 170 U.S. locations. In addition to its government contracts, the company supplies restaurants, schools, universities and hospitals.

OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. Collectively, these laws make it illegal for contractors and subcontractors doing business with the federal government to discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. In addition, contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against applicants or employees who inquire about, discuss or disclose their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations.
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