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EEOC focus on retailer Target spotlights hiring discrimination

Mega-retailer Target was, well, targeted by the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission several years ago following what a Fortune business magazine article reports were "anecdotal reports of possible violations" in the company's hiring practices.

A subsequent probe of the company's policies convinced federal investigators that several of the tests it used to gauge potential employees unlawfully discriminated against select individuals.

Those tests, the EEOC recently stated, "were not sufficiently job-related and consistent with business necessity."

In fact, noted the commission, they improperly discriminated against certain applicants -- especially would-be black, Asian and female workers -- to a high degree, thus violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

Target is paying for that, to the tune of $2.8 million that it recently agreed to dole out to affected applicants in a settlement it agreed to early last week.

The EEOC's investigation traced back nearly a decade, with the commission first noting Target's discriminatory policies back in 2006. Three specific tests were spotlighted for their disparate effect on some applicants, with the EEOC finding that they "disproportionately screened out applicants for positions based on race and sex."

The commission additionally stated that Target violated a dictate of the Americans with Disabilities Act by subjecting job candidates to medical examinations at the pre-hiring stage. That is taboo under the ADA, which stipulates that such exams can be conducted only following an offer of employment.

As noted by Fortune, the matter never resulted in formal litigation. Target terminated the called-out practices during the EEOC's probe. It will now pay out the settlement money to persons who were identified as victims of discrimination under its past policies.

Source: Fortune, "Target to pay $2.8 million for discriminatory hiring tests," Claire Zillman, Aug. 24, 2015