Target to Pay Nearly $3 Million for Faulty Screening Tests

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

August 26, 2015

The Minneapolis-based Target Corporation has agreed to pay $2.8 million to thousands of rejected job candidates who claimed they were unfairly screened out of upper-level positions because of their race or gender. The settlement will be dispersed among more than 3,000 people who were adversely affected when these screening tests were used in the hiring process.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated the claims and found that three Target employment assessments disproportionately screened out applicants for exempt-level professional jobs based on their race or sex. The agency determined that the tests were neither job-related nor consistent with business necessity.

The EEOC also found that one of the assessments violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by subjecting applicants to a psychological exam. The ADA bans employers from conducting medical exams of any sort prior to making an employment offer.

As part of the settlement, Target will not use these assessments again as part of its exempt-level employment selection procedures. In addition, the company will make changes to its applicant tracking systems to ensure its collection of data is sufficient to assess any adverse impact on protected classes.

Target also will retain an experienced outside consultant to conduct annual training on the topics of:

  • Recordkeeping;
  • The ADA and preemployment medical exams; and
  • Disparate impact on protected classes in the selection process.

In a statement, EEOC Chairwoman Jenny Yang applauded Target for taking corrective action to improve its hiring practices going forward. Yang said, "This resolution demonstrates the benefits of working with the EEOC and serves as a model for businesses committed to effective and lawful selection procedures."

The settlement continues a trend of cases in which government agencies have vigorously pursued hiring discrimination charges. In a 2013 Department of Labor administrative proceeding, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that Bank of America, the nation's second-largest bank, used "unfair and inconsistent selection criteria" in bypassing qualified black job candidates. The ALJ ordered Bank of America to pay nearly $2.2 million in back wages and interest.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labor settled a hiring discrimination case with Cargill Meat Solutions in 2014 for more than $2 million. Cargill denied the discrimination claims and called the settlement "a business decision."