Bank of America must pay $2.2 million in race discrimination case

Company accused of “systemic hiring discrimination” at a North Carolina branch

Bank of America Corp. (BofA) will be paying dearly for its past discretions.

On Sept. 23, a Department of Labor administrative law judge ordered the bank to shell out $2.2 million in back wages and interest to 1,147 African American people who applied for jobs at a Charlotte, N.C., location in the 1990s and early 2000s. The payout is the result of the bank’s “unfair and consistent selection criteria,” as they excluded black applicants for entry-level, teller and administrative positions.

"Wherever doors of opportunity are unfairly closed to workers, we will be there to open them — no matter how long it takes," Patricia A. Shiu, director of the DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), said in a statement on Monday. "Judge Chapman's decision upholds the legal principle of making victims of discrimination whole, and these workers deserve to get the full measure of what is owed to them."

Judge Linda S. Chapman’s ruling awards nearly $1 million to 1,034 applicants who were denied jobs in 1993. The remainder will go to 113 applicants who were denied positions between 2002 and 2005. The bank will also extend offers with appopriate seniority to 10 of the class members.

The case dates back to 1993 when the OFCCP conducted a routine compliance audit of the bank and discovered “systemic hiring discrimination” affecting African American applicants at the Charlotte location. After settlement talks failed, the DOL’s solicitor general filed a complaint in 1997.

"Our investigators and attorneys prevailed despite decades of stalling tactics," said Solicitor of Labor M. Patricia Smith in the DOL’s statement. "This case demonstrates that the department will not be deterred in our pursuit of justice for job seekers."

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Cathleen Flahardy

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