Court Finds Union's Use of Job-referral List not Discriminatory

July 10, 2008 ( - A federal judge has cleared a Missouri construction union of racial discrimination in its use of a jobs-referral list.

The Kansas City Star reports that U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner said sufficient evidence was not presented to show that Sheet Metal Workers Local 2 discriminated against the five union members who filed the lawsuit. Fenner said an expert hired by the plaintiffs “failed to consider the individual characteristics of the plaintiffs to determine if there were race-neutral reasons” the minority workforce worked fewer hours than others, according to the news report.

The court also found there was no proof of a single instance when the union gave preference to an employee during the referral process. Fenner dismissed most of the plaintiffs’ discrimination claims in February, but allowed the case to go forward on the issue of whether the union discriminated in its use of a job referral list, the Star said.

The lawsuit was filed during a time when Kansas City leaders were questioning whether the construction industry was employing enough minority workers. The plaintiffs’ expert found that the mean hours worked by white Local 2 members was 1,566.25 from 2002 to 2006, compared with 1,338.75 for African American members during the same period.