Federal Contractor Pays $1.5M for Bias

     (CN) – Statistical survey firm Westat, a federal contractor, will pay $1.5 million to settle claims it failed to give equal employment opportunities to thousands of minorities and women in eight states.
     The Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs said Wednesday it discovered that the Rockville, Md.-based company used a selection process that “systematically discriminated” against 2,153 African American, 825 Asian American and 35 Hispanic applicants from Oct. 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2009.
     The desired openings include research analyst, programmer analyst, telephone data collector and field data collector positions.
     The Department of Labor claims that 638 women applicants were also discriminated against for survey process staff positions.
     The discriminatory acts took place at Westat’s Maryland headquarters and at field locations in California, Connecticut, Michigan, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee.
     Under the terms of the conciliatory agreement, Westat will pay $1.5 million in back wages and interest to 3,651 applicants and make 113 job offers to the original class members as positions become available.
     Westat has received more than $2.8 billion in federal contracts since 2008, with agencies including the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Treasury and Veterans Affairs.
     “For more than 50 years, Westat has effectively harnessed the power of data to produce groundbreaking research,” said Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “That commitment to data integrity should also be applied to its employment practices so that every worker has a fair shot at getting a good job and company leadership understands exactly who is getting hired and why.”
     Westat officials could not be reached for comment Thursday evening.

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