NORC at the University of Chicago has agreed to pay $95,000 to 107 Asian adults who applied as COVID-19 contact tracers in the early months of the pandemic as part of a settlement agreement, the Department of Labor announced on Oct. 2.
The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) alleged that NORC discriminated against 107 Asian adults applying for a job as COVID-19 contact tracers in Maryland and Delaware. DOL noted in a press release
that the alleged hiring discrimination claim occurred between May 2020 and August 2021.
The organization, which is affiliated with the University of Chicago
and was previously known as the National Opinion Research Center, partnered with the government of Maryland
to provide contact tracing services in April 2020 and May 2020, respectively.
What they found:
In the settlement agreement
dated Sept. 29, the OFCCP noted that it had found “statistically significant differences in the hiring rates” of Asian and Hispanic applicants for the Contact Tracing position during the period of Aug. 10, 2019, to Aug. 9, 2021. The OFCCP said that only 12 Asians were hired during that period.
The OFCCP stated that NORC had violated Executive Order 11246,
which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin.
What they are saying:
In a statement reported by The Chicago Maroon
, NORC explained that it hired “a wide range of candidates with a need for a significant number of Spanish-speaking interviewers.” The decision purportedly resulted in the organization hiring more Hispanic applicants than Asian applicants.
The Chicago-based organization added that while “denying all allegations of discrimination,” NORC decided to settle the discrimination claim “rather than continuing to contest the matter as it has been in deliberation for over two years.”
“NORC has additionally evaluated and further enhanced its auditing systems and documentation practices to strengthen our ability to execute and monitor non-discriminatory hiring,” the statement continued, according to the Maroon.
Conclusion: As per the agreement, NORC will reportedly pay a total of $95,000 in back pay and interest to 107 Asian applicants who did not get the job at the time.
“This conciliation agreement holds the National Opinion Research Center to the terms of their federal contract where they agreed to provide all applicants with equal employment opportunities, and closely examine and audit their employment processes to ensure no barriers to equal employment exist,” Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Midwest Regional Director Carmen Navarro said in a statement.
Those of Asian descent who applied to work at NORC from May 1, 2020, to Aug. 31, 2021, and who were not part of the settlement can make a claim by contacting the Department of Labor at [email protected]