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News Release

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.


Employment Standards Administration

ESA Press Release: Kohler Will Pay Nearly $900,000 in Back Pay to Resolve Discriminatory Hiring Practices [09/23/1999]

For more information call: (202) 693-4661

National plumbing hardware manufacturer Kohler Corp. has agreed to pay almost $900,000 in back pay to more than 2,000 women who were not hired at its Kohler, Wisc., plant because of their gender. The settlement signed today with the U.S. Labor Department resolves discriminatory hiring practices revealed during a routine compliance review by the department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

"Kohler had an informal practice not to consider women who applied for jobs unless they were at least 5 feet 4 inches tall," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. "In fact, it was one of several arbitrary requirements that had nothing to do with job performance and amounted to outright gender discrimination. Women applying for non-traditional jobs cannot be stopped at the door just because of their height or their sex or because the company believes that certain jobs are unsuitable for women."

Kohler has $27 million in contracts to supply back-up and portable power generators to the General Services Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration. As a federal contractor it is prohibited from employment discrimination. The department's contract compliance office enforces equal opportunity requirements of companies doing business with the federal government.

The $886,500 in back pay, benefits and interest covers more than 2,000 women who applied at Kohler between Jan. 1, 1994 and Dec. 31, 1995. They were seeking blue-collar jobs such as machine operators, tub and enamel casters, brass finishers and assemblers that paid between $8 and $12 an hour plus benefits. Secretary Herman is particularly interested in assuring fair and equal opportunity for women in these higher paying, non-traditional blue collar jobs.

In addition to the back pay, Kohler will offer jobs to the applicants until 111 have been hired. Kohler will also fund a $108,000 ergonomic study over the next three years to make jobs safer and eliminate unnecessary barriers to women and will train management and human resources staff to carry out the settlement.

"We are very pleased with all of the positives that have resulted from this case action," said Deputy Assistant Secretary Shirley Wilcher, head of the OFCCP. "The steps that the Kohler Company has committed to take, not only in providing financial remedy but in correcting the policies and practices that gave rise to the problems uncovered here, will bring them into compliance with all of OFCCP's regulatory requirements," Wilcher added.

OFCCP, part of the Labor Department's Employment Standards Administration, enforces Executive Order 11246 and other laws that prohibit employment discrimination by federal contractors. OFCCP monitors federal contractors to ensure that they provide equal employment opportunity without regard to race, gender, color, religion, national origin, disability or veteran status and meet affirmative action requirements.

Archived News Release — Caution: Information may be out of date.

Employment Standards Administration
September 23, 1999
Contact: David Roberts
Phone Number