Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Georgia-Pacific fined by OFCCP for using literacy test

In a display of "See? It's not just the EEOC you need to worry about", the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) has fined the Georgia-Pacific Corp. nearly $750,000.

Why? During a "routine audit of the company's hiring practices", the OFCCP discovered that one of Georgia-Pacific's paper mills was giving job applicants a literacy test that resulted in adverse impact against African-American applicants (saw that one coming a mile away). The $749,076 will be distributed to the 399 applicants who applied for a job while the mill was using the test.

The test required applicants to read "bus schedules, product labels, and other "real-life" stimuli." The OFCCP determined that the test was not backed by sufficient evidence of validation for the particular jobs it was being used for.

The company defended itself by saying it promotes heavily from within and wanted workers to be able to move around easily.

A sensible policy, but completely irrelevant in terms of defending the legality of a test. In fact it works against an employer, since (as one of the attorneys points out) you're in effect testing people for higher-level positions, which is a no-no.

Several attorneys are quoted in the article, and they mention the importance of the Uniform Guidelines, which really only apply when a test has adverse impact, as in this case. It does make me wonder what sort of validation evidence G-P collected (if any)...

Note: the article states incorrectly that "all federal contractors" are subject to OFCCP rules. Actually only certain ones are, and details can be found here.

Hat tip.

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