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Enterprise Rent-A-Car of Baltimore ordered to pay millions in bias case

An administrative law judge for the U.S. Department of Labor ordered Enterprise Rent-A-Car of Baltimore to pay more than $6.6 million in a discrimination case regarding the treatment of African-American job applicants.

Administrative Law Judge Morris D. Davis found Enterprise RAC Co. of Baltimore LLC violated an executive order by discriminating against African Americans who applied for entry-level management jobs between 2007 and 2017, according to a news release announcing the award Thursday. The decision and order were filed July 17.

In addition to the $6.6 million award of back wages, benefits and interest to 2,336 rejected African-American job applicants — the total will be more than $7 million once calculations are updated to the present — Davis ordered Enterprise to extend job offers to 182 of the applicants by July 2021 and to pay them as if they had been hired at the time of their rejection.

“In this case, the evidence shows that the seemingly race-neutral standards Enterprise articulated for hiring management trainees had a disproportionate adverse impact on African American applicants,” Davis wrote.

Enterprise is also indefinitely debarred from current and future government contracts until it agrees to implement steps to address the effects of past discrimination and to prevent future occurrences.

“The judge’s order stands for fairness in employment, and sends a clear message of the serious costs of hiring discrimination,” Oscar L. Hampton III, the department’s regional solicitor in Philadelphia, said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Enterprise Holdings Inc. said Thursday that the company has a strong record of offering equal opportunity in its hiring and employment practices and does not tolerate discrimination.

“We’re disappointed that the Administrative Law Judge apparently chose to ignore the evidence and reached this conclusion,” she said. Enterprise is exploring options to challenge the decision, she said.

Enterprise can file exceptions with the Administrative Review Board within 14 days of the receipt of the judge’s decision. A spokeswoman for the Labor Department could not immediately confirm if exceptions had been filed.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) filed an administrative complaint in 2016 after a compliance review found Enterprise engaged in discriminatory hiring and failed to maintain personnel and employment records. A hearing was held in June 2018.

An expert witness testified that the probability that the shortfall in African-American applicants receiving job offers occurred by chance was one million times less likely than the probability of a single ticket winning the Powerball lottery, according to the opinion. The expert witness found statistical evidence of a shortfall in Enterprise job offers to African-American applicants in nine of the 10 years she studied.

Davis found the OFCCP established its case with statistics and the testimony of African-American applicants who were rejected, as well as with the testimony of Enterprise employees involved in screening and interviewing, according to the opinion.

Enterprise, in an attempt to rebut the OFCCP’s findings, disputed the expert’s calculations and the conclusion that a pattern of discrimination was established, but the judge said he was not convinced.

“Overall, I found that Enterprise connected a few jabs in its effort to knockout OFCCP’s statistical evidence as inaccurate, but it did not score a TKO or score more points for punches landed,” Davis wrote.

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