Target agreed to pay $2.8 million on Monday to settle a claim that the retailer disproportionately screened out applicants based on their race or gender. The complaint, filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), targeted certain hiring assessments used over the past decade. The sum represents one of the highest amounts paid in recent years to settle a claim of hiring discrimination; most are for less than $1 million.
The EEOC said the tests were not sufficiently related to the actual jobs, which were for upper-level positions, and while on their face they were neutral, in practice they kept out particular groups, according to the agency’s statistical analysis. It also found that one of its assessments, by constituting a pre-employment medical exam, violated the Americans with Disabilities Act that bars such tests.
The settlement money will be shared among more than 3,000 people who were adversely affected by the hiring assessments. The company also agreed to take steps to ensure the validity of its hiring process, including better data keeping, and it is no longer using the tests.
A spokeswoman for the company noted that while the EEOC found the potential for adverse impact, it didn’t find any actual disparities in its hiring. “The EEOC has concluded that only a small fraction of the assessments administered during the relevant time period could have been problematic,” she said in an emailed statement. “We continue to firmly believe that no improper behavior occurred regarding these assessments.”
So yes, over the last ten years, the hiring tests for Target's management positions systemically discriminated against minorities, women, and the disabled. Sounds like yet another great American company to work for.
Ahh, but Target is far, far from alone.
The settlement is part of a larger effort by EEOC to root out systemic bias in company policies. Screening and recruitment processes, background checks, and tests can all be tailored to exclude certain groups of people.
And they have been for decades, if not longer. There's a reason why the vast majority of managers in the US are white men and have been. They're the ones deciding the criteria for management.