by Patricia A. Schaeffer, Vice President-Regulatory Affairs

On December 10, 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that a federal judge had signed a consent decree ending a lawsuit by the EEOC against Target Corporation. The lawsuit alleged Target had not hired African Americans in its Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin district based on their race, and had failed to keep documents required by law.

Under the consent decree, Target agreed to pay a total of $510,000 to four African Americans who were denied jobs as assistant store managers in 2000 and 2001. As part of the decree, Target also agreed to revise its document retention policies; provide training to supervisors on employment discrimination and record-keeping; report on hiring decisions; and to post a notice about the consent decree to its employees.

The consent decree follows a 2006 unanimous decision by the U.S. Court of appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, which ruled the case should go to trial. John Rowe, director of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, said the appeals court decision was “noteworthy for its ruling that the trial court could admit into evidence expert testimony to the effect that the employer may have racially identified the applicants as African American on the basis of their names or accents heard during telephone conversations.”

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