DALLAS (CN) – Gerber Products agreed to settle with the U.S. Department of Labor, which accused it of discriminating against 1,912 minority and female applicants who were rejected for entry-level positions. Gerber will pay $900,000.
The agreement settles the department’s discrimination allegations against Gerber for 1 year.
“This settlement of $900,000 on behalf of more than 1,912 minorities and females should put all federal contractors on notice that the Labor Department is serious about eliminating systemic discrimination,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.
During a scheduled compliance evaluation of the company in Fort Smith, Ark., federal investigators found the hiring disparity was, in part, caused by inconsistent selection procedure.
They found that Gerber used pre-employment tests that hurt minority applicants and that there was insufficient evidence of validity to support Gerber’s use of the test. The company has stopped using the test in its hiring process for entry-level positions.
“Under the terms of the conciliation agreement, Gerber will not only pay 1,912 minority and female applicants $900,000 in back pay and interest, but will provide 61 entry-level positions, 11 of whom have already been hired,” the Department of Labor said. “The company has also agreed to undertake extensive self-monitoring measures to ensure that all hiring practices fully comply with the law and immediately correct any discriminatory practice.”
Based in Fremont, Mich., Gerber makes baby food, formula and baby accessories. It was sold by Novartis International to the Nestlé Co. for $5.5 billion in 2007.