BUFFALO, N.Y. – Staffing Solutions of WNY Inc., a Buffalo-based staffing company that places employees with clients throughout Western New York, will pay $550,000 and furnish other relief to settle an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.
According to EEOC’s lawsuit, Staffing Solutions either refused to hire highly qualified Black applicants or placed them in the lowest paying, least desirable jobs; complied with clients’ race and sex preferences; placed employees in positions based on race and sex; and rejected pregnant applicants.
Additionally, the complaint alleged that applicants over the age of 50 were routinely rejected by Staffing Solutions. Applicants were also improperly asked about injuries and medical conditions and then rejected if the company deemed them disabled.
Finally, the EEOC charged that an office manager for Staffing Solutions complained about the illegal hiring practices but was warned that she would be fired if she failed to comply. The office manager felt she had no choice but to resign, the EEOC said.
Staffing Solutions’ alleged hiring practices violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, disability, race or sex, as well as retaliation.
The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York (EEOC v. Staffing Solutions of WNY, Inc., Civil Action No. 1:18-cv-00562) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The case was litigated by Trial Attorneys Daniel Seltzer and Renay Oliver and Supervisory Trial Attorney Nora Curtin.
“The law is clear that complying with a client’s discriminatory request is illegal,” said Jeffrey Burstein, regional attorney for EEOC’s New York District Office. “Staffing companies cannot prioritize clients’ discriminatory preferences over following the law.”
Timothy Riera, the acting director of the EEOC’s New York district, added, “The EEOC’s Buffalo Local Office will continue to be vigilant in its efforts to identify employers who discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age or disability and to ensure that such unlawful conduct stops.”
The three-year consent decree settling the suit provides $475,000 to be distributed to applicants and employees who were subjected to Staffing Solutions’ discriminatory practices. The decree also provides for significant non-monetary relief designed to prevent further discrimination. Staffing Solutions will pay $75,000 to retain an independent monitor to regularly review its hiring and placement decisions to ensure they are legal, provide its owner and internal staff with extensive anti-discrimination training, and investigate complaints of discrimination.
Additionally, the decree requires Staffing Solutions’ owner to send a letter to all clients committing the company to following federal laws prohibiting discrimination; includes various injunctions against discrimination in the future; and requires the company to adopt a robust anti-discrimination policy and distribute it to all applicants and employees. The EEOC will monitor Staffing Solutions’ compliance with these obligations for the next three years.