A group of African-American workers filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court against a nationwide job placement agency and several of its clients, accusing them of discriminating against black applicants by favoring Hispanic applicants. The lawsuit, filed in United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleges that the agency, MVP Staffing, used a range of discriminatory practices, including code words for job applicants of different races, to honor the requests of corporate clients who refused to employ African-Americans in temporary positions. The company operates about 60 offices in 38 states.
Joe Sellers, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs and chair of Cohen Milstein’s Civil Rights & Employment practice, said he believed that racial discrimination was widespread in the staffing industry, which connects job seekers with employment that is often temporary. “What we have seen in this industry is that this is a more widespread phenomenon than what we have just found in this case, with this company,” Mr. Sellers said. “The staffing agencies follow the requests made by the client companies even if they happen to be ones that might exclude people based on race.” Mr. Sellers said there were several other anti-discrimination class-action lawsuits in process against staffing agencies and their client companies in Illinois. The agencies “do the bidding of the employers on whose behalf they are reviewing candidates,” he said. “It is a process readily susceptible to abuse.”
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