by Art Gutman Ph.D., Professor, Florida Institute of Technology

In a release dated 7/19/12, the OFCCP announced a settlement with Denver, CO based Leprino Foods, a major producer of mozzarella cheese. The OFCCP alleges that Leprino’s Lemoore West facility used a pre-employment Workkeys exam that adversely impacted blacks, Asians, and Hispanics. Under the terms of the consent decree, Leprino agreed to pay $550,000 in back pay and interest to 253 minority applicants who were rejected based on exam scores between January 2005 and October 2006. Leprino also agreed to hire at least 13 of the original 253 applicants, undertake extensive self-monitoring measures, and correct any discriminatory practices.

The key issue according to the OFCCP is that the Workkeys exam assesses math skills, locating information, and observation, and it is therefore not job related because the skills assessed are not critical to the entry-level tasks performed by on-call laborers. These tasks include inspecting products, monitoring equipment, and maintaining sanitation at the facility. OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu stated that she is “pleased that we were able to reach a fair settlement in this matter” and that “while employers can and should hire the most qualified workers for the job, they cannot create artificial barriers to employment that unfairly block any individual from competing for good jobs.”

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