Ford Settles Claim that Test Was Racially Discriminatory

December 21, 2007 ( - Ford Motor Co., two related companies, and the United Auto Workers (UAW) union have agreed on a settlement of a race discrimination lawsuit brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The EEOC alleged that a written test used by Ford, Visteon, and Automotive Components Holdings (ACH) to determine the eligibility of hourly employees for a skilled trades apprenticeship program had a disproportionately negative impact on African Americans. The test was also used to select apprentices in the Ford-UAW Joint Apprenticeship Program, according to an EEOC press release .

The settlement calls for Ford and the other defendants to pay about $1.6 million to the class of nearly 700 African Americans nationwide who have taken the test since January 1, 1997, and were not placed on the Ford apprentice list at the former Visteon facilities. In addition, 55 African American test takers will be placed on the apprentice lists and a new selection method for the apprenticeship program together with detailed reporting and monitoring provisions will be developed by a jointly selected expert.

“We are pleased this settlement will address the serious problem of selection criteria that result in racial minorities receiving fewer job opportunities,” said EEOC Chair Naomi C. Earp. “Apprenticeship programs are a ladder to skilled, high-paying jobs and every group should be able to climb that ladder based on genuine abilities.”

Pending Approval

The settlement, which was preliminarily approved by the court on September 9, 2007, is pending final approval by U.S. District Court Senior Judge Spiegel of the Southern District of Ohio. Upon approval by the court, the settlement will resolve the EEOC’s suit against Ford, Visteon and ACH and will also resolve the class members’ suit against Ford, Visteon, ACH and the UAW.

According to the EEOC, this suit is a successor case to the EEOC’s earlier suit against Ford and UAW which was settled for $8.5 million in 2005 and covers additional people disadvantaged by the test in question who were not covered in that settlement. On December 3, 2007, the EEOC issued a new Employment Testing Fact Sheet which cites the Ford case. The fact sheet is available on the EEOC’s web site at .

In August, FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp., reached a settlement agreement in a class action lawsuit that alleged racial discrimination by the company in part because of a Basic Skills Test (BST) it used as a prerequisite for promoting employees to higher-paid, more desirable positions (See Judge Approves FedEx Skills Test Discrimination Suit Settlement ).