Data company settles federal job discrimination case

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Federal contractor Westat Inc. has agreed to settle allegations that it failed to provide equal employment opportunities to more than 3,600 minorities nationwide, the Department of Labor announced Wednesday.
Under the terms of the settlement, Westat will pay a total of $1.5 million in back wages and interest to the affected applicants and make 113 job offers to the original class members as positions become available. The company has also agreed to preserve and maintain all employment records, correct record-keeping violations, conduct internal audits, and perform outreach and positive recruitment activities.
“For more than 50 years, Westat has effectively harnessed the power of data to produce ground-breaking research,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “That commitment to data integrity should also be applied to its employment practices so that every worker has a fair shot at getting a good job and company leadership understands exactly who is getting hired and why.”
The conciliation agreement entered into by Westat and the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs resolves these and numerous other violations, including a failure to maintain and internally audit its own records.
During a scheduled compliance review, the labor department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs discovered that Westat used a selection process that systematically discriminated against 2,153 African-American, 825 Asian-American and 35 Hispanic job applicants for research analyst, programmer analyst, telephone data collector and field data collector positions, as well as 638 female applicants for survey process staff positions, between Oct. 1, 2008, and Sept. 30, 2009.
The violations took place at the company’s Rockville headquarters and at field sites in California, Connecticut, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Westat, one of the nation’s leading research and statistical survey organizations, has held more than $2.8 billion in federal contracts with agencies in the past six years, including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs.
Special to the NNPA from The Washington Informer


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