Kaplan Higher Education Sued for Racial Discrimination

racial discrimintationKaplan Higher Education Corp., one of the earnings engines for the Washington Post Company, has been sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission [EEOC]. The focus of the lawsuit is their alleged discriminatory hiring practices used against African-Americans. The accusations involve the supposed improper use of credit history as a means of turning down applicants.

This case has the potential to have broader repercussions for employers in general, since this case may set precedent regarding an employer's ability to factor credit report data into their hiring decisions -- a practice that has come increasingly under attack, in this tough job market.

According to its Dec. 21 press release, the EEOC contends:

"Since at least 2008, Kaplan Higher Education has rejected job applicants based on their credit history. This practice has an unlawful discriminatory impact because of race and is neither job-related nor justified by business necessity."

The EEOC it seems, attempted to settle the case prior to filing suit, seeking what's known as injunctive relief. In addition, the EEOC is seeking to recoup lost wages and benefits, as well as offers of employment for people who had not been hired, due to the proported discrimination.

The issue of legality of the use of credit reports in order to make hiring descisions seems to be a pivotal part of the EEOC's case. The EEOC claims that the practice violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was intended to eliminate whatever factors created arbitrary barriers to employment because of the applicant's race.

Clearly, workplace discrimination filings have been keeping the EEOC busy in 2010. The EEOC notes that this year those filings have risen to a record level of almost 100,000.

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