Wednesday, November 4, 2015

US Govt Sues State Agency Claiming Bias Against Native Americans on Jobs

The US government has filed a lawsuit against the South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) alleging it practised racial discrimination against Native Americans in hiring, the US Department of Justice said in a news release.

"The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the District of South Dakota, alleges that in failing to select well-qualified Native American applicants for several positions in DSS’s Pine Ridge Reservation Office, the state agency engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination," the release read on Tuesday.

The Justice Department said that the agency had violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a US federal statute that prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion.

"When employers discriminate against qualified job applicants because of what they look like or where they come from, they violate both the values that shape our nation and the laws that govern it," Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta said, according to the release.

  • According to the complaint, Cedric Goodman, a Native American with supervisory experience as a social worker, as well as several other well-qualified Native Americans, applied for an Employment Specialist position at DSS’s Pine Ridge Office in October 2010.
  • However, DSS ultimately selected a white applicant with inferior qualifications and no similar work experience, the release noted.

"The complaint alleges that DSS discriminated against Goodman and other similarly-situated Native American applicants based on their race," the release added.

Over a two year period beginning in 2010, DSS posted 18 Specialist vacancies for its Pine Ridge Reservation Office. But even though the agency received nearly 40 percent of its applications from Native Americans, DSS hired 11 whites and only one Native American, while removing six other openings entirely, according to the release.

Goodman originally filed a charge of race discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and after unsuccessful reconciliation process, the EEOC referred the matter to the Justice Department, the release stated.


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