Baldor Electric Co., which once produced batteries and generators for the Army and other federal agencies, has agreed to pay $2 million and offer 50 people jobs to settle allegations of discrimination, federal contract oversight officials said this week.
The company’s applicant screening process for its facility in Fort Smith, Ark. allegedly discriminated against women and minorities, the Labor Department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) said in a news release. The OFCCP found the company’s process of evaluating applicants was based on subjective standards, not an objective analysis of a person’s qualifications, an OFCCP spokesman said. As a result, 795 qualified women, African-Americans and job seekers of Asian and Hispanic descent could not advance to the interview stage when applying for production and laborer positions, OFCCP said in the release.
The company did not receive any complaints over its hiring process from the group, said Baldor Electric spokeswoman Tracy Long. The OFCCP’s finding was based on an analysis of people who applied for positions at Baldor and how many of those applicants were asked to interview for positions, she said.
Officials believed they were in compliance with federal rules but decided to settle to avoid further legal costs, Long said.
OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors who receive more than $10,000 in government contracts each year from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. OFCCP raised the issue with Baldor officials in 2007 after conducting a routine compliance audit, the OFCCP spokesman said.
Baldor, which is based in Fort Smith, currently has federal contracts worth more than $18 million with the General Services Administration and the Veterans Affairs and Justice departments, according to OFCCP. From 1997 to 2010, Baldor received $79 million to produce batteries and generators for federal agencies including the Army, GSA and the Justice Department, OFCCP said.
Under the terms of the agreement, Baldor will pay $2 million in back wages and interest to the 795 affected individuals and will make at least 50 job offers to the group as positions become available, OFCCP said. The company also agreed to begin self-monitoring measures to ensure that all hiring practices fully comply with the law, OFCCP said.