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Eden Prairie defense firm to pay $100,000 for race discrimination

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission announced a race discrimination settlement with Alliant Techsystems, Inc., a multibillion-dollar defense and aerospace company founded in Minneapolis. The company, which is commonly known as ATK, has agreed to pay $100,000 to a woman the EEOC believes was not hired because of her race.

According to the federal agency, the woman, an IT and tech support worker who is African American, applied for a job at ATK’s Eden Prairie location, where she would have been providing tech support for company executives. She was initially told that she had gotten the job, but ultimately the company rejected her in favor of a white male.

ATK gave reasons for the reversal of its hiring decision, but the EEOC concluded that those reasons were pretextual — meaning they were a pretence to cover a decision based on race.

“We found it was clear that ATK rejected Green because of the color of her skin, and not because of her skills, and that’s illegal as well as unjust,” said a regional attorney for the EEOC’s Chicago district, which is in charge of discrimination cases in Minnesota and surrounding states.

After its initial attempts to settle the claim with ATK were unsuccessful, the EEOC had filed a lawsuit on the woman’s behalf in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. The case was then settled out of court through a consent decree.

By the terms of the settlement, ATK will pay the African American female tech worker $100,000, and it will also be required to review its employment policies and train the entire staff of its Eden Prairie location and its headquarters in Virginia on nondiscrimination laws. In addition, the company must ensure that it does not discriminate based on race in the future and does not retaliate against anyone should complaints arise. The company operates 60 facilities in 22 states, Puerto Rico and abroad.

Interestingly, the settlement specifically requires ATK to review its policies relating to taking and maintaining proper notes on job interviews. The company must review those policies for compliance with both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (the federal law prohibiting race discrimination in the workplace) and other record-keeping laws.

Although the defense manufacturer did not agree to settle the dispute until it was filed in court, the EEOC praised the company for agreeing to the consent decree.

“We congratulate the company for agreeing to the terms of this decree, particularly the non-monetary relief, which will protect and benefit its employees,” said the regional attorney.

Source: EEOC Press Release, “ATK to Pay $100,000 to Settle EEOC Race Discrimination Case,” Nov. 27, 2012

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