ATTORNEY GENERAL RAOUL REACHES SETTLEMENTS OVER SEX DISCRIMINATION IN TEMPORARY LABOR HIRING
Consent Decrees with Staffing Agency and Client Companies to Ensure Equal Employment Opportunities for Workers
Chicago — Attorney General Kwame Raoul today filed consent decrees reached with a temporary staffing agency and three companies that utilize temporary staffing labor, which resolve allegations the companies segregated workplaces and discriminated against workers based on their sex when hiring.
The consent decrees resolve lawsuits Raoul’s office also filed today against Fibre Drum Sales Inc. (FDS); DSI Holdings Corporation, doing business as Service Master (DSI); Amylu Foods LLC (Amylu); and Alternative Staffing Inc. (ASI) and its associated entity Resource Management Group Inc. The consent decrees protect workers from discrimination on the basis of their sex by ensuring the companies take steps to prevent future discrimination when hiring. Additionally, the consent decrees require the companies to pay civil penalties totaling $280,000.
“The companies seeking to hire workers based on sex – not qualifications – barely attempt to hide their discriminatory hiring practices because such discrimination is almost commonplace within the temporary staffing industry,” Raoul said. “I am committed to taking action to stop pervasive discrimination in the temporary staffing industry because Illinois workers should have equal opportunities for employment and not be subject to discrimination in the workplace.”
The Attorney General’s lawsuits allege that the companies segregated their workplaces making some positions open only to men and others only to women, regardless of whether workers could perform the duties of each position. This meant candidates were systematically excluded from consideration because of their sex, and based on stereotypes about the work that women are suited for. In the case of one company, women had not been assigned to work in a production position in years, and the company’s facility did not even have a women’s locker room.
It is not uncommon for companies that utilize temporary staffing labor to assign positions based on gender stereotypes about the work that women can perform. Additionally, some companies use temporary staffing agencies to segregate their workplaces based on these stereotypes. For example, companies often use codes such as “heavies” or “lights” to signify men or women, respectively, when making sex-specific laborer requests through their staffing agencies. Staffing agencies then use these thinly-veiled, sex-specific requests to recruit workers. Such practices can result in an underrepresentation of women in the workforce or women being tied to lower paying positions.
Raoul’s consent decrees are aimed at eliminating discrimination and ensuring that temporary laborers are solicited and chosen based on their ability to fill the requirements of the positions available, irrespective of their sex. The consent orders require the client companies to communicate minimum requirements for open positions, and staffing agencies engaged by the companies must recruit workers based on those requirements – not workers’ sex. The decrees also call for companies to conduct annual reviews of position descriptions to ensure hiring requests are tailored to the needs of each position and do not discriminate on the basis of sex.
Additionally, the decrees require the companies to train personnel on sex-based discrimination, including bias in employment and assignments; create and distribute a discrimination and equal employment opportunity policy; establish a complaint hotline; and increase recordkeeping. The consent decrees also require the companies to provide regular reports to the Attorney General’s office to ensure compliance.
The consent decrees build on Attorney General Raoul’s work to advocate for workers and protect them from unlawful forms of discrimination. Raoul previously sued Voyant, a beauty packaging company in Cook County, and installed a monitor following workers’ complaints of sexual harassment and retaliation. Raoul also initiated a lawsuit against Colony Inc. and its temporary staffing agencies alleging they unlawfully conspired to fix workers’ wages and restrict their right to find better employment opportunities. Attorney General Raoul also leads the Worker Protection Unit Task Force, which is composed of state agencies and law enforcement officials from around the state. The task force issued its first report in November 2020.
Raoul’s consent decrees today involve sex discrimination in the temporary staffing industry, and the action follows a recent report detailing race discrimination in the temporary staffing industry in the Chicago area. The report, entitled “Opening the Door,” details the pervasiveness of hiring discrimination based on race by temporary staffing agencies that serve many businesses.
Attorney General Raoul encourages workers who have experienced workplace discrimination to contact his office’s Workplace Rights Hotline at 1-844-740-5076 or by visiting the Attorney General’s website.
Bureau Chief Alvar Ayala and Assistant Attorneys General Javier Castro and Samantha Kronk handled the cases for Raoul’s Workplace Rights Bureau.
A Spanish translation of this press release is available here.