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Judge Rules BofA Discriminated in Hiring for Charlotte Branches

http://66.225.205.104/JR20100203.mp3

A Department of Labor judge has ruled that Bank of America discriminated against African Americans for entry level jobs at its Charlotte branches. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: The ruling stems from a complaint made in 1993 against a bank branch which then belonged to NationsBank, and later became Bank of America. The bank's hiring practices have since been under investigation by the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Its job is to make sure women, minorities, veterans and people with disabilities get a fair chance at jobs in companies that hold federal contracts. Banks fall under that category. "Getting a federal contract is a privelge, it is not a right," says Pat Shiu, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. She says the case against Bank of America dragged on for 17 years largely because of appeals the bank filed. An administrative law judge has now ruled that Bank of America discriminated against African American candidates for entry level jobs such as tellers and clerks. Shiu says the charges apply to the bank's Charlotte branches in 1993 and between 2002 and 2005. "You know numbers can tell you one story, but there's also the human part of the story as well," says Shiu. "Very often applicants don't know they've been discriminated against, because they don't know what sort of screening mechanisms are being used to evaluate their application." The ruling was based largely on a statistical analysis which took a look at the racial makeup of applicant pools in a given year. It found dozens more African Americans should have been given jobs if the bank's hiring were really non-discriminatory. In a statement, Bank of America said it has a strong track record of fair hiring and does not tolerate discrimination. The bank also says it plans to appeal the ruling, which goes next to an Administrative Review Board at the Department of Labor.