According to a lawsuit filed by a New Jersey woman, a New Jersey-based temp agency has engaged in wrongful discrimination, passing over African-American applicants.
Latisha DeSota wasn’t looking for a temporary job; she was hired by Lyneer Staffing Solutions, of New Jersey, to help them set up a new branch in Georgia. Her first task-finding temporary employees for a package-sorting warehouse-seemed almost too easy, as she had nearly 100 applicants the first day. But things got difficult quickly. She says that here supervisors consistently rejected the African-American applicants who came in or simply passed them over. One supervisor told her, “we don’t want ghetto people and we don’t want thugs.” DeSota, an African-American, asked her supervisor if the company was making its hiring and placement decisions based on race, and was summarily fired. She filed a lawsuit in 2014 and settled out of court.
Industry watchers say the lawsuit is one of many filed against temp agencies over the last few years. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting, lawsuits alleging discrimination and harassment by temp agencies are pretty common. They say that many of the agencies are unlicensed and frequently ignore state and federal laws governing discrimination in the workplace. Investigators found that many agencies used code words when they wanted to hire someone of a specific race or gender.
Here are just a few examples of the types of legal action filed in recent years:
- An Ohio agency specified “hockey players” or “vanilla cupcakes” when they only wanted white workers
- A Texas agency asked for “blue eyes” for white workers
- An Oklahoma agency used dots, circles and X marks for different ethnicities
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