WASHINGTON — Lincoln Electric Co. has agreed to settle allegations of hiring discrimination on the basis of race following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. An investigation by OFCCP compliance officers found that the federal contractor violated Executive Order 11246 by using a hiring process that resulted in systemic discrimination against African American applicants. As a result, 5,557 qualified African Americans were rejected for entry-level factory and production positions at the company's Cleveland facility.
Under the terms of the conciliation agreement, Lincoln Electric will pay $1 million in back wages and interest to the 5,557 affected job seekers and will offer entry-level positions to 48 class members as positions become available. Additionally, the company will revise its selection policies and procedures, including making changes to its online application test, to ensure equal employment opportunity for all job applicants going forward.
"Vigilance is paramount in enforcing civil rights," said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. "When we find violations of the law, corrective measures must be taken and lasting reform implemented so that further discrimination is not perpetuated against more workers. We will remain vigilant as we work with Lincoln Electric to ensure that unfair barriers in the company's hiring process are fixed once and for all."
During a scheduled compliance review, OFCCP determined that Lincoln Electric's paper and online application systems created multiple barriers for African Americans to advance in the selection process. In addition, Lincoln Electric's applications and post-application tests were not properly supported by a validation study that satisfies the requirements of the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.
Since 2005, Lincoln Electric has held more than $2 million in federal contracts to manufacture welding, cutting and joining products for the federal government. The company was cited for the same violation more than a decade ago when an OFCCP review found that the contractor had discriminated in hiring against minorities and women who applied for entry-level factory jobs. Those charges were settled by a 2003 conciliation agreement that provided $1 million in back pay and interest to the affected workers in that case.
In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These three laws require that those who do business with the federal government, both contractors and subcontractors, must follow the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. For more information, visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/.