Enterprise to pay more than $16.3 million in restitution for discriminatory hiring

Posted at 1:50 PM, Aug 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-01 18:10:06-04

LINTHICUM, Md. — Enterprise Rent-A-Car of Baltimore has been ordered to pay more than $16.3 million in restitution to more than 2,300 black applicants for the company’s management trainee program, according to a statement released by the United States Department of Labor.

The restitution payments were ordered by an Administrative Law Judge in the Labor Department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges following an investigation by the department’s Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Enterprise RAC Company of Baltimore LLC must pay $6,645,444 in lost earnings and benefits, the largest back wage award in the history of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

The judge found that the Linthicum-based company engaged “in a pattern and practice of discriminating against African-American Applicants for these entry-level management jobs in the Baltimore area over a ten-year period,” the release said. The investigation determined enterprise discriminated against 2,336 black applicants in favor of white applicants between Aug. 1, 2007 and July 31, 2012, and again between Aug. 1, 2013 and July 31, 2017.

The judge ordered Enterprise to pay back wages and benefits, with interest updated to the present, bringing the total closer to $7.2 million. Job offers were also ordered extended to 182 of the 2,336 applicants, or roughly 8 percent of the applicant pool. Those applicants are to be paid as if they were hired on the day of their rejection, representing another $9.1 million in lost wages that must be restored. The entire earnings recovery exceeds $16.3 million, the Labor Department said.

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

Enterprise defended its hiring process in a statement released Thursday about the investigation. The company said 44 percent of its entry-level hires in the greater Baltimore area were black, "which is a selection rate that exceeds the availability of African-Americans for such positions in the reasonable recruitment area," the statement said. The company also said they were with recruiters who target Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Baltimore area to cultivate new hires.

"Our exhaustive review of every employment application in question documented that we acted properly in every case," the company said in a statement.

Enterprise has also been barred from participating in entering into current or future government contracts until the company agrees to implement specific steps to address the effects of is previous discriminatory actions and ensure they do not repeat in the future. The investigation’s audit determined Enterprise Baltimore’s “hiring practices had an ongoing disparate impact on minority applications since 2007,” the Labor Department said, with the company taking no steps to address or change that pattern.

“When an employer like Enterprise finds that it’s hiring process are discriminatory, that employer must make corrections to its process to ensure equal employment opportunity for all applicants,” said Michele Hodge, the Regional Director for OFCCP in Philadelphia.

Enterprise disputes the department's findings, saying they have fully cooperated with the investigation, dilligently providing records and allowing access to the company's office and files. The company said it's exploring options following the ruling.

The full statement from Enterprise is below:

"As a company with a strong track record of equal opportunity in our hiring and employment practices, we work hard to ensure that our workforce mirrors the diversity of the communities we serve. That is why we respectfully disagree with the decision and are exploring options to challenge the decision. We do not tolerate discrimination against an employee or applicant based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, or any other status protected by law.

Since the Department of Labor raised this issue with us nine years ago about applications filed in the 2006-2008 time period, we have fully cooperated in its investigation. We have been thorough and diligent in providing records and opening our offices and files. Our exhaustive review of every employment application in question documented that we acted properly in every case.

We’re disappointed that the Administrative Law Judge apparently chose to ignore the evidence and reached this conclusion. It’s especially troubling in light of the fact that our percentage of African-American hires in entry level management positions in the greater Baltimore area is 44 percent, which is a selection rate that exceeds the availability of African-Americans for such positions in the reasonable recruitment area. Further, we work diligently to support organizations in the community that share our commitment to diversity. In addition, we have dedicated college recruiters who focus on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the Baltimore region in our effort to achieve equal opportunity."