Federal Contractor to Pay $492,000 in Back Pay to African-American Applicants and Will Discontinue Use of Its Selection Procedures Because It Was Found to be Discriminatory

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Norfolk Southern Corp. is a federal contractor that, in recent years, has had more than $10 million in contracts with the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of the Navy, U.S. Department of Air Force and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.

Maintenance of Way #34 – a business unit in Norfolk Southern’s engineering department – entered into a conciliation agreement after the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs determined the company failed to provide equal employment opportunities to 2,086 African Americans who applied for the track laborer and building and bridge laborer positions at the company’s Roanoke facility. During its scheduled compliance evaluation, OFCCP found that – from Jan. 1, 2010, through Dec. 31, 2011 – Maintenance of Way #34 engaged in hiring practices that discriminated against African-American applicants. 

The company’s actions violated Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on race or color in their employment practices.

Under the terms of the agreement, the company, which has not admitted liability, will pay $492,000 in back pay and interest to the African-American applicants. Norfolk Southern also agreed to make job offers to seven of the non-selected applicants. Additionally, the company has agreed to discontinue use of the selection procedures in question for the track laborer and building and bridge laborer positions, and to review and modify its employment practices including recruitment, screening, interviewing, selection, rejection and hiring in order to comply with Executive Order 11246. The agreement resolves all violations found by OFCCP.

Norfolk Southern is one of the nation’s oldest transportation companies, and operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia. It is a major transporter of coal, automotive, and industrial products. Its Maintenance of Way #34 business unit is responsible for maintenance of the Virginia rail tracks throughout the state, including highways, roads, streets, and other management and consulting services.

In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These laws, as amended, make it illegal for contractors and subcontractors doing business with the federal government to discriminate in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. In addition, contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discriminating against applicants or employees because they have inquired about, discussed or disclosed their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations.

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