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Bank of America to Pay $4.2 Million to Settle Hiring Bias Claims

Sept. 30, 2019, 2:50 PM

Bank of America will pay $4.2 million to settle government allegations of race and sex bias in hiring at locations in four states, while also reaching a proactive nationwide agreement to monitor hiring practices moving forward, according to the Labor Department.

The DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs alleged that Bank of America discriminated against black, Hispanic, and female applicants at six sites in New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, and Texas, according to an agency statement. The bias allegedly affected applicants for roles including phone representatives, client service representatives, mortgage underwriters, telephone sales associates, and sales specialists.

The bank had received at least three notices of violation from January 2016 to September 2018, according to documents previously obtained by Bloomberg Law. The OFCCP in January declined to comment on the details of those specific violations.

“This is one of the largest settlements in OFCCP history, and this result will further the goal of equal employment opportunity,” OFCCP Director Craig Leen said in a statement. State Street Corp. settled pay bias allegations with the agency in 2017 for $5 million. Wachovia Corp. also agreed to settle pay bias charges in 2004 for $5.5 million.

The OFCCP has settled bias allegations with Bank of America in the past. The agency said it found hiring bias against black applicants, which evolved into a two-decade long legal conflict that finally concluded in 2017. That settlement was worth $1 million, paid out to a class of over 1,000 applicants. The number of class members included in the most recent Bank of America settlement wasn’t immediately available.

“We disagree with these allegations and are confident that our hiring practices were appropriate and reflected Bank of America’s demonstrated record of recruiting a diverse workforce,” a Bank of America spokesperson told Bloomberg Law in an email. “These reviews occurred between six and 10 years ago in a small number of offices. We decided it was best to put this matter behind us by reaching this resolution.”

Bank of America also reached a corporate-wide resolution agreement as part of the settlement, stipulating that it will monitor its hiring practices nationwide.

This is at least the third nationwide “early resolution conciliation agreement,” as the agency calls them. Performance Food Group, Cintas Corp., and US Foods Inc. agreed to routine reporting of hiring practices in exchange for five years free of random OFCCP audits. The OFCCP regularly audits federal contractors for compliance with equal employment opportunity laws.

Bank of America’s settlement wasn’t immediately available for review, but other settlements have focused on hiring only, not pay. The OFCCP is the only federal labor agency that has the jurisdiction to review pay information, but other agreements didn’t require agencies to submit their pay data as part of the settlement.

The agency didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paige Smith in Washington at psmith@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jay-Anne B. Casuga at jcasuga@bloomberglaw.com; Terence Hyland at thyland@bloomberglaw.com

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