Aug. 11, 2005 – Whirlpool Corporation, an appliance manufacturing giant based in Michigan, has agreed to settle a Department of Labor discrimination complaint. According to a DOL statement released Friday, the company agreed to pay $850,000 in back wages and committed to hire at least 48 of 800 qualified African-American job applicants who were denied positions in 1997 and â€™98.
The company admitted no wrongdoing, terming the failure to hire any of the hundreds of African-Americans who applied for jobs with the companyâ€™s Oklahoma plant "inadvertent."
In a statement released yesterday, a company vice president said, "Despite the governmentâ€™s recent findings about the Tulsa divisionâ€™s hiring practices used eight years ago, we have a long history of clear, observable diversity in our workforce."
Whirlpool blames the apparent discrimination on an employment test it no longer uses. But last weekâ€™s settlement does not end the charges of corporate discrimination.
A two-year-old lawsuit brought by fifteen employees charges that Whirlpool fosters an atmosphere of racial intimidation. Fellow workers have come forth to corroborate many of the suitâ€™s claims, including frequent and accepted use of the word "nigger" on the shop floor and racist graffiti on the walls, The Tennessean reported last month.
Less than a year ago, a group of Muslim employees filed a lawsuit against Whirlpool for religious discrimination. The workers charged that supervisors at a Tennessee plant refused to allow them prayer breaks. Their complaint failed in court.