HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — Oral Arts Laboratory Inc., a dental lab and manufacturer, will pay $115,000 to resolve allegations of systemic hiring discrimination at its Huntsville corporate headquarters. A compliance review by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs found that the federal contractor discriminated against 83 women and 19 African Americans who were denied dental lab technician positions, as well as 57 men who were rejected for shipping positions. Under the agreement, Oral Arts will extend job offers to at least 19 of the original class members as positions become available.
"This agreement underscores the notion that federal contractors, like Oral Arts, should closely examine their employment policies and practices to identify and eliminate unfair barriers to equal opportunity," said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu.
OFCCP investigators found that, from November 2011 to November 2013, Oral Arts used a dexterity test in the selection process for dental lab technicians. This test was used even though it was not supported by a validation study that satisfies the requirements of the Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.
The investigation also uncovered that the company stereotyped shipping positions as female jobs and rejected male applicants. The agency concluded that Oral Arts' hiring process systematically discriminated against women, men and African-American applicants, a violation of Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment on the basis of race or sex. The company has ceased using the tests and revised its selection process to ensure equal opportunity for all applicants.
Oral Arts is a manufacturer of dental prostheses, orthodontic appliances, fixed and removable implants and dentures. A family owned and operated dental lab, Oral Arts in 2014 held more than $2 million in federal contracts with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
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. As amended, these laws require those who do business with the federal government, both contractors and subcontractors, to follow the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, or status as a protected veteran.