EEOC Sues Vanguard for Racial Discrimination

October 2, 2009 ( - The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has sued The Vanguard Group, an investment company and retirement plan provider, over charges it refused to hire an African-American woman because of her race.

An EEOC news release said Barbara Alexander was the only African-American applicant for a financial planning manager position based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She had 14 years of financial management experience and an MBA in finance, and was “well qualified for the position,” according to the announcement.

Even though a Vanguard official told Alexander she was “obviously qualified for the position,” she was not hired and, in fact, pronounced “unqualified” because she did not hold a certified financial planner (CFP) certification. The EEOC said evidence that Vanguard did not hire Alexander because of her race was the fact that it ended up hiring a white person who was less qualified and who also did not hold the CFP designation.

“Unfortunately, 45 years after enactment of the landmark Civil Rights Act, the EEOC continues to see far too many cases of race discrimination against African Americans,” said Acting Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office. “This lawsuit should remind employers that the EEOC will take action when a company impermissibly makes hiring decisions based on the race of the applicants instead of on their experience and qualifications.”