Federal contractors are held to higher standards than most private sector companies. They must pay higher wages, provide more worker protections and are under greater civil rights protections. This is the lesson that Gordon Food Service Inc. is learning as it is required to pay $1.85 million to 926 female job applicants for discriminatory hiring practices.

Gordon Food Service (or “GFS”) during the interview process would require applicants to pass a “strength” test. The jobs were for entry-level warehouse laborer positions. An investigation by the Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (or “OFCCP”) found that these tests bear no relation to the applicants’ ability to perform the required tasks.

As a result, only six women were hired compared to 300 men during the investigation period. Companies may require certain tests but it must bear a direct relation to the required job. If it does not, then the OFCCP may find that it is discriminatory and designed to eliminate certain people from the position. This isn’t the first time that GFS settled charges with the government. In 2007, it paid $450,000 to settle allegations of sex discrimination in hiring for entry-level labor positions.

Despite this stellar record, GFS serves both the Departments of Justice and Agriculture and the Bureau of Prisons. Since 2010, it has been awarded nearly $4.5 million in federal contracts.

As you can see, discrimination protections begin the moment you apply for a job. Your application should be judged fairly by the hiring department and if it is not then you may have a valid employment claim. You may want to speak to an attorney to go over the situation and determine the best course of action. Discrimination unfortunately still occurs every day. The only way to end it is by standing up to it every time you see it.

Source: Department of Labor, “Federal Food Service Contractor Settles Charges of Gender-Based Hiring Discrimination for Entry-Level Michigan, Kentucky, Wisconsin Warehouse Jobs,” Scott Allen, Rhonda Burke, May 9, 2016