G&K Settles DOL Discrimination Charges

Posted November 20, 2015 at 1:22 pm

The U.S. Dept. of Labor recently announced a settlement agreement with G&K Services Inc. The company agreed to provide $1.8 million in back wages to people associated with nine facilities that were charged with “systematic hiring and pay discrimination charges” between 2011 and 2015, according to an agency news release. G&K, based in Minnetonka, MN, denied liability for the alleged violations, all of which involved federal contracts.

“A compliance review by the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) found that G&K discriminated against 444 female employees in laborer positions by disproportionately assigning them to lower-paying job duties, while filling the higher-paying job duties predominantly with men, even though the female employees were qualified for and able to perform the higher-paying jobs,” the release said.

“When you accept taxpayer dollars, you are held to the highest employment standards,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “Workers should be judged on their skills and qualifications, not on their gender or any other arbitrary measure. We will not tolerate employment discrimination by companies that do business with the federal government.”

The OFCCP found that the practice of steering women into lower-paying “light-duty” jobs led to unlawful sex-based pay discrimination at G&K facilities in Denver, Sacramento, CA; Graham and Charlotte, NC; Pleasant Hill, IA; Justice, IL; St. Paul, MN; and Houston and Coppell, TX, the release said. It added that this practice also led to a lower hiring rate for 2,327 male applicants who were “equally or more qualified” for general laborer positions in several of the aforementioned cities.

G&K spokesman Jeff Huebschen, told Textile Services Weekly that the company denied liability, while agreeing to pay $1,813,555 in back pay to members of the affected classes in the conciliation agreement.

“G&K Services has entered into a settlement with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP),” Huebschen said. “Although we disagree with OFCCP’s allegations and deny any substantive wrongdoing, we entered into this agreement in the best interests of our stakeholders and to avoid the considerable legal expenses and business disruption that would have resulted from protracted proceedings with this agency.” 

The company also agreed to offer 78 jobs to male, black and white applicants who weren’t hired and 58 jobs to women employees to move into higher-paying jobs. Click here for details.