Home Builder Agrees to Pay $378,500 and Hire More African-Americans and Women
ATLANTA – John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods, Inc., an Atlanta-based home builder, has agreed to pay $378,500 to six claimants and hire at least ten African-Americans and women into management positions over the next six years, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced today. The agreement resolves a race and sex discrimination lawsuit filed by the EEOC in June 2009.
The EEOC lawsuit had charged that the company unlawfully engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against black sales agents by intentionally assigning them to housing communities based on the race of the surrounding community. The lawsuit charged that these practices resulted in black agents earning less than their white counterparts, who were assigned to housing communities where they sold higher-priced homes. The EEOC also alleged that a white human resources representative was harmed when she was forced to participate in the alleged discriminatory assignment practices. The settlement provides monetary relief to five African-American sales agents and the white human resource representative.
The lawsuit also resolves pending charges that the company failed to hire and promote African-Americans and women into management positions. In the consent decree settling the suit, the company agreed to exercise good faith in hiring qualified blacks and women “at or reasonably near [their] qualified applicant rates” for management positions. Pursuant to the decree, the company will meet specific hiring goals by offering African-Americans and females at least 10 management positions within six years. At least five of the positions are to be filled within the first three years of the decree, although all positions may be filled sooner than the deadlines set forth in the decree.
In terms of the benefit provided to the two affected groups, the EEOC estimates the monetary relief to be in the neighborhood of one million dollars in salaries and fringe benefits for one year.
Wieland will also implement nondiscriminatory hiring measures which include targeted recruitment and advertising, and training for positive EEO management practices. The company has also pledged to continue to supply diversity training to its executive and management personnel who participate in the recruiting and hiring process. The decree also provides for reporting and record keeping.
“The job assignment issue first arose about six years ago and has been the subject of a number of lawsuits over the years, and this resolution provides relief to the last remaining victims of that alleged practice,” said Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for the Atlanta District office.
According to Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, director for the EEOC’s Atlanta District Office, “The decision to resolve the hiring and promotion charges along with the lawsuit was advantageous to everyone involved. This lawsuit sends a strong message that the EEOC is committed to protecting the rights of employees based on race and sex.”
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on the agency’s web site at www.eeoc.gov.