EEOC sues Kaplan Higher Ed for unlawful discrimination

Interesting release from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission about its decision to sue Kaplan Higher Education Corporation, which operates Bauder College in Atlanta

Kaplan Higher Education Corporation, a nationwide provider of postsecondary education, engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination by refusing to hire a class of black job applicants nationwide, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.

Since at least 2008, Kaplan Higher Education has rejected job applicants based on their credit history. This practice has an unlawful discriminatory impact because of race and is neither job-related nor justified by business necessity, the EEOC charged in its lawsuit.

As a result of these practices, the company has violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the lawsuit (Civil Action No. 1:10-cv-02882) filed by the EEOC’s Cleveland Field Office in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio. It is a violation of Title VII to use hiring practices that have a discriminatory impact because of race and that are not job-related and justified by business necessity.

The EEOC attempted to reach a voluntary settlement before filing suit. The EEOC seeks injunctive relief in its lawsuit, as well as lost wages and benefits and offers of employment for people who were not hired because of Kaplan Higher Education’s use of job applicants’ credit history.

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was intended to eliminate practices that serve as arbitrary barriers to employment because of a job applicant’s race,” said Regional Attorney Debra Lawrence of the EEOC’s Philadelphia District Office, which oversees Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland, and portions of New Jersey and Ohio. “Employers need to be mindful that any hiring practice be job-related and not screen out groups of people, even if it does so unintentionally.”

Workplace discrimination charge filings with the federal agency nationwide rose to an unprecedented level of 99,922 during fiscal year 2010.

The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

–By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

66 comments Add your comment

TopSchool

December 22nd, 2010
1:41 pm

The CHICKENS HAVE COME HOME TO ROOST …and everyone is still ignoring the problem…
This is all about race and what side of town you live on…nothing much has changed.

Atlanta Public Schools
Honesty-Integrity-Ethics

Sent to all Atlanta News Media – February 5, 2004
From: Government Accountability Project
http://www.WhistleBlower.org

Atlanta School Teacher Alleges Discrimination, Abuse of Authority and Falsified or Misleading Documentation at Award-Winning Elementary School–Sues to be Reinstated

Today -February 5, 2004, a federal suit was served on the Atlanta Public School system and a school official alleging they retaliated against teacher John Sam, Jr. after he challenged discriminatory practices used to assign students to classes, abuse of the admissions process, financial mismanagement, and other improper practices. In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the application documents sent from Warren T. Jackson Elementary School in the Northwest section of Atlanta to the U. S. Department of Education to compete for a “National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence” award were false or misleading. Jackson was one of the Atlanta schools that received National Blue Ribbon recognition in the 2000-2001 school year.

According to the complaint, Mr. Sam was harassed, humiliated and transferred to another school, after he challenged the management ethics and practices of Principal Loraine Reich. Mr. Sam was especially concerned about the practice of placing all English as a second language (ESL) students in one section of the school, regardless of grade or age, and calling it a “Family Suite.” He sites numerous instances of intimidation and threats issued by Reich to any staff who questioned her practices or authority.

“Jackson operated like a private school funded by the taxpayers,” said Sam. “If you had the right parents or your family came from the right background you could enroll at Jackson, no matter where you lived in or outside of Atlanta. If not, you didn’t stand a chance.” Mr. Sam expressed concerns about the process and data used to justify Jackson’s application for recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the federal Department of Education. He raised concerns about submissions to the Georgia State Pay for Performance program.

Further, the complaint alleges that when Mr. Sam requested that minutes from school Leadership Team Meetings be accurate or to tape record the meetings, Reich and others threatened him, humilated him in front of colleagues, and forced him to stay in closed door meetings while he was verbally abused for extended periods by Reich. “At that moment I realized I had no option but to file a grievance. When that failed to bring about an end to the corrupt practices and the retailation escalated. I felt I had to file this lawsuit so I could regain my career and inform the public of the issues plaguing Jackson Elementary and many others in Atlanta Public Schools. Teachers are petrified to speak out. All they have to do is look at what happened to me at the hands of my Principal and the APS Administration to know they need to keep their mouth shut unless they want to find a new career.”

Despite over ten years of outstanding performance at Jackson Elementary and over seventeen years in education service, Mr. Sam was suddenly placed on a performance review plan shortly after he sought to address the troubling problems he witnessed at the school. However, the plan was merely a ruse to pressure him. Mr. Sam’s supervisors never followed through on the plan. As a result of the continual humiliation and pressure placed upon him, Mr. Sam was eventually forced to resign his teaching job.

The Government Accountability Project, a leading national whistleblower organization, is supporting Mr. Sam’s effort to bring greater accountability for school administrators and better support to teachers in the classroom. “We know that teachers like John Sam throughout the country have the best information about what is happening in the public schools—information parents, legislators and taxpayers need to properly assess their school system’s performance,” said staff attorney Doug Hartnett. “This case demonstrates that theachers are powerless to challenge wrongdoing without risking devastating consequences. It isn’t just school employees that get hurt when administrators act this way. Ultimately, the children suffer.” Government Accountability Project is calling for the Atlanta Public Schools to reconsider the action taken against Mr. Sam and to fully and publicly investigate the charges in his complaint. “We expect students to be accountable for their actions. At the very least, we expect educators to model that behavior, Hartnett added.

****ALL News Media in ATLANTA refused to publish this
it was submitted several times while appealed to the next levels in Federal Court
http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

If this was a SOUTHSIDE SCHOOL in Atlanta Public Schools …Don’t you think it would have been addressed in the media?

I think this problem is systemic from Buckhead to Bankhead Highway…

Concealing Segregation/APS/Jackson Elementary
http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta

TopSchool

December 22nd, 2010
1:45 pm

2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 11987,*;225 Fed. Appx. 840

JOHN SAM, JR., ALL ABOUT LEARNING AFTER SCHOOL, INC., Plaintiffs-Appellants, versus LORRAINE B. REICH, BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF ATLANTA, ATLANTA INDEPENDENT SCHOOL SYSTEM, Defendants-Appellees.

No. 06-11580

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT

225 Fed. Appx. 840; 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 11987

May 22, 2007, Decided

May 22, 2007, Filed

NOTICE:

[*1] PLEASE REFER TO FEDERAL RULES OF APPELLATE PROCEDURE RULE 32.1 GOVERNING THE CITATION TO UNPUBLISHED OPINIONS.

PRIOR HISTORY:

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. D.C. Docket No. 03-03178-CV-JOF-1.
Sam v. Reich, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8238 (N.D. Ga., Feb. 9, 2006)

DISPOSITION:

AFFIRMED.

COUNSEL: For John Sam, Jr., Appellant: Holly Page Cole, Stack & Associates, P.C., ATLANTA, GA.

All About Learning After School, Inc., Appellant: Holly Page Cole, Kimberly Ann Sturm, Stack & Associates, P.C., ATLANTA, GA; Martin Arthur Shelton, Schulten, Ward & Turner, ATLANTA, GA; Richard E. Condit, PEER, WASHINGTON, DC.

For Lorraine B. Reich, Atlanta Independent School System, Appellees: Dorsey E. Hopson, II, Greenberg Trauig LLP, ATLANTA, GA.

JUDGES: Before PRYOR, KRAVITCH and ALARCON, * Circuit Judges.
*

Honorable Arthur L. Alarcon, United States Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, sitting by designation.

OPINION

PER CURIAM:

After careful consideration of the record and the written and oral arguments of the parties, we conclude that the district court properly dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims of First Amendment and Due Process violations and properly granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants as to the plaintiffs’ claims [*2] of breach of contract and tortious interference with contract. We affirm.

AFFIRMED.

TopSchool

December 22nd, 2010
1:46 pm

Maureen—Any ideas as to why the AJC would not print this NEWS RELEASE in 2004.

When I spoke to officials at the AJC they stated they would wait for a response from APS.

I think this is as relevant today as it was in 2004…
Maybe if they would have started the investigation on the Northside of Atlanta…this wouldn’t be a problem today.

I am just the messenger. You evaluate and give your opinion. I think everyone is still dodging the problem.

justbrowsing

December 22nd, 2010
2:03 pm

Well I hope they are just getting warmed up. In this economy that is the norm. You would think that using credit history’s as job screening tool would change in light of the economic condition, but many companies besides Kaplan still do it. It is certainly a wake up call for those who still do.

David Granger

December 22nd, 2010
2:04 pm

Ms. Downey, this might be a silly question, since we’re dealing with racial matters here. But how does a credit history…whether good or bad…have anything to do with race?
If White borrowers do not pay their bills on time, their credit rating will be low…and they’re not given any special dispensation just because they’re White. And if Black borrowers pay their bills on time, their credit rating will be high…and they’re not discredited any just because they’re Black.
It sure seems to me that a credit rating…because it’s based solely on numerical, measurable figures that have nothing to do with any “intangibles”…is about as “equal opportunity” as any kind of score can be.

EnoughAlready

December 22nd, 2010
2:08 pm

Don’t worry I see this policy changing due to the new demographics who are currenly unemployed and who are now volunteering to give up their homes to foreclosure.

However, they will continue to use your home address and birth names as a means of discrimination.

An American Patriot

December 22nd, 2010
2:20 pm

Just another example of our federal bureaucracy gone amok. Folks, every company uses credit histories for employment and advancement purposes. This has been companies policies for years…..I wonder, is the US EEOC and that “Racist” DOJ head Eric Holder working in concert on this one?….it certainly sounds like it.

bob leblah

December 22nd, 2010
2:23 pm

Oh I forgot personal responsibility shouldn’t be used as criteria for hiring. Oh and since the black community seems to be more irresponsible that means its a civil rights violation. Give me a break.

bob leblah

December 22nd, 2010
2:27 pm

There are also more criminals (%wise) in the black community. Is it discriminatory now to look at criminal records before hiring? The victim strategy has gotten tired and old. By the way, how is this your opening statement:

“Kaplan Higher Education Corporation, a nationwide provider of postsecondary education, engaged in a pattern or practice of unlawful discrimination by refusing to hire a class of black job applicants nationwide, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it announced today.”

They weren’t hiring people with bad credit.. oh but since black people tend to have bad credit, let’s make it a race issue. And you are a primary problem in this, Maureen, because you and the media continue push the excuse making victim agenda.

justbrowsing

December 22nd, 2010
2:34 pm

I would suppose it is is smoke screen to protect white americans who have become casualties of the recession. This has gone on for years and impacted the African American community with not a blink of an eye, however, the “new disenfranchised” are seeking reprieve. It is interesting that these measures are rarely considered, or acted upon, until those affected include White Americans. Just a thought.

Karma

December 22nd, 2010
2:42 pm

This is really dumb. I’ve always been told that companies everywhere consider your credit before hiring you. Also, what the EEOC is really saying here is that it’s OK for black people to have bad credit because they can’t help it. That’s offensive.

justbrowsing

December 22nd, 2010
2:48 pm

@Karma- it is no longer just black people with poor credit histories, many are also white, as there were before the recession. Those who have lost the means to maintain responsible pay historird due to job loss and the like, deserve protection also. It is not just black people, it is inclusive of every color out there.

EnoughAlready

December 22nd, 2010
2:49 pm

Karma,

You have been lied to, because it was never a standard practice outside industries that did not handle money. If you will never handle money or provide a service where money is involved, why does credit matter?

Also, the practice is not used for every person hired in the organization. If you know the inside people on a personal level, many times the usual business hiring practices are not followed.

The one job where your financial situation would matter is the governor of Georgia and you people chose to ignore the situation. If Nathan Deal can run the state of Georgia and work with our Budget numbers; why should a secretary or phone rep be subject to credit history discrimination?

bob leblah

December 22nd, 2010
2:50 pm

justbrowsing..
You have got it totally backwards. Black leadership gets involved any time they can slice the pie and view data in a manner that regards black people are the majority of the victims. Sometimes this is correct, but for the most part it isn’t.

Also, the black community has been a casualty of the “recession” for years? How? The recession hit in 2008. Maybe there is another issue. Maybe this would be a good starting point to analyze; 72% of black babies are born out of wedlock. There is a good start… The black community is 13% of the population and commits 45% of the crime.. there is another place to look..

Wowzer

December 22nd, 2010
2:50 pm

Maureen, TopSchool has been taking up a great deal of commentary the last couple of weeks (perhaps longer, but I am just now noticing) and it’s getting a bit redudant. Any way to speak to him and/or justify the comments so that an article can come out about it or he can quit?

justbrowsing

December 22nd, 2010
2:56 pm

Mr. Leblah- not sure about your data- however- if the black community has been a casualty of the credit system since BEFORE 2008, why is it just now being addressed? You have to consider that this issue is no different than the Civil Rights Act which benefits more White women than it does African Americans. This issue is not new, it is just now gaining exposure, and not for the reason it appears to.

bob leblah

December 22nd, 2010
2:59 pm

@justbrowsing Why have they been a casualty (victim) of the credit system? Did someone force them to buy a bunch of stuff and not pay for it? Doesn’t seem like they are learning their lesson. Titlemax etc keep popping up all over their communities.

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justbrowsing

December 22nd, 2010
3:04 pm

Titlemax is all over every community- perhaps all over yours to Mr. Leblah. Perhaps you want to check the statitics to determine who frequents the bankruptcy courts most often?

bob leblah

December 22nd, 2010
3:12 pm

Titlemax is all over every community? Really?! You don’t see the pattern? Bankruptcy applies not only to irresponsibility but to failed business even on legitimate basis. Bankruptcy is also a stategy unfortunately in some cases and has too many variables to compare in the discussion we’re having.

stop dodging the truth, and hiding in gray areas. It will set you free.

justbrowsing

December 22nd, 2010
3:16 pm

Individuals who do file bankruptcy tend to be white. African Americans do not file bankruptcy at the rates that whites do. Bankruptcies allow for a fresh start, but can be a hindrance when one is applying for a job requiring a credit check. Interesting article (2009) on race disparities in the bankruptcy courts: http://www.law.nyu.edu/ecm_dlv3/groups/public/@nyu_law_website__academics__colloquia__law_and_economics/documents/documents/ecm_pro_064134.pdf
Like it or not- race still matters.

catlady

December 22nd, 2010
3:16 pm

I don’t think credit history should figure in to any decision on hiring or rates (insurance, loan) unless you are directly dealing with cash. I would love to see the real records on how many poor folks have huge, expensive accidents (they don’t own the new cars) vs. the well to do. I am guessing the well to do have as many accidents/claims, and a lot more expensive ones! Yet the poor folks, who cannot afford to drive wildly, pay more “because they are credit risks.” Watch who drives recklessly on the Atlanta highways, and see if it is the 10 -15 year old Ford Festivas or the 2008-11 Chevy Tahoes.

bob leblah

December 22nd, 2010
3:30 pm

justbrowsing — so if a disproportionate amount of the black community didn’t manage their money poorly, would there be outcry and would this be a story? Nope..

bob leblah

December 22nd, 2010
3:38 pm

FYI- ive read the article you cited. very skewed.. you should check into the counties they decided to use and whether there are other factors in the cases such as “How” bankruptcy is utilized. I’ve already told you there are too many variable to cite that apples to apples.

You know the problem, you’ve seen it firsthand as I have.. stop hiding in generalities.

TopPublicSchool

December 22nd, 2010
3:41 pm

@ Wowser relative of the Reich Family? or the Jackson Family?

What do you have to say about discrimination in the education systems mentioned?
Any first hand experiences?…
I shared mine…and yes it pertains to the topic mentioned…

justbrowsing

December 22nd, 2010
3:47 pm

Mr. LeBlah- in the article- over 75.5 % of those filing bankruptcy in the study were white. African Americancs do not file bankruptcy at the same rates as white americans. Irrespective of the reasons, whether they be legitimate or not, those who file get a fresh start while others who don’t, do not. Does the reason matter? If so how can you determine by race if it is irresponsibility or not? If there are not clear guidelines in place, it is easy for this to dienfranchise people for superficial reasons such as credit worthiness, even if their credit histories were perfect prior to the occurrence of some economic calamity, or, were horrible 10 years ago pre-bankruptcy. It can be quite misleading.

TopPublicSchool

December 22nd, 2010
3:48 pm

@ Wowser relative of the Reich Family? or the Jackson Family?

TopPublicSchool

December 22nd, 2010
3:51 pm

Yes, It is all about race…and nothing has changed much since 1960…just a little harder to detect and fancier names to disguise the discrimination.

justbrowsing

December 22nd, 2010
3:51 pm

Furthermore- there are a variety of variables that factor in. If you admit this, why are you generalizing that black people are irresponsible. Losing your job, foreclosing on a home, getting sick, going through a divorce, and other reasons can negatively impact a credit history. Stop being so presumptuous.

The Wiz

December 22nd, 2010
4:37 pm

The EEOC statement makes it sound as if the government assumes black people are deadbeats by default and that when a prospective employer pulls a credit report on a black applicant it can be expected to come up negative. Therefore, since the credit check you’re running on the black person is more likely to be bad it’s a discriminatory practice. Is that what they’re saying?

Man the courts will have fun with that one. Look for another 5-4 decision if this ever gets to the Supreme Court.

Lee

December 22nd, 2010
5:38 pm

Let’s see, the United States military can administer a test which has a 50+% failure rate for minorities but if a business wants to use a credit report, which, btw, is an excellent indicator of how responsible a person is, the EEOC is all over that.

A far better solution would be to overturn the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and disband the EEOC. They’ve already run a lot of our companies to China and India.

Here’s the bottom line, it does not matter what measure you use to gauge the aptitude or quality of a job candidate (credit score, pre-employment test, GPA, SAT/ACT, etc, etc), the minorities will come up short.

TopSchool

December 22nd, 2010
5:44 pm

Sad…very sad…that our country still operates with this mind set.

Birdie Champ

December 22nd, 2010
6:25 pm

Is it legal to get someone’s credit history without consent? I thought you needed a SS# for this? Maybe a stupid question, but…

justbrowsing

December 22nd, 2010
6:50 pm

@Birdie Champ- you sign a release, like is what is done for a background check.

justbrowsing

December 22nd, 2010
6:53 pm

Usually only qualified applicants will apply. I truly feel this is being done to assist those who have fallen on hard times and are being excluded from professional opportunities they were previously privy to prior to the recession.

Tanisha Green

December 22nd, 2010
6:54 pm

So the EEOC wants to pat us African-Americans on the hand and say “Bless your hearts, you folks can’t be held to any kind of responsible standards.” That is very offensive behavior. I know we have problems in the African-American community, but we’re damn sure not going to solve them by pretending they don’t exist.

Really?

December 22nd, 2010
8:17 pm

@Tanisha Green, David Granger & An American Patriot- you are all spot on.

Aren’t there more pressing issues for the EEOC to litigate about? Most, if not all, job applications “since at least 2008″ require applicants to provide a Social Security number, and applicants are advised that their credit history may be checked, and that their credit history may be used to determine eligibility for employment.

Whether or not an employee handles cash is not the only reason why an employer considers an applicant’s credit history- it is a good indicator of one’s decision-making skills, and their ability to exercise sound financial judgment (i.e. to fulfill my financial obligations, or not to fulfill my financial obligations, that is the question).

I’m willing to bet that there were applicants of ALL nationalities who have been turned away from employment at KHEC (and countless other companies nationwide, but for some reason, the EEOC has chose African-Americans as their platform. What if we were to examine the disparity in the number of men vs. the number of women (race/ethnicity aside) of those same applicants who were not hired? Would this lawsuit still have been brought forth?

just wondering

December 22nd, 2010
10:29 pm

is there a “legal” discrimination???

just wondering

December 22nd, 2010
10:30 pm

I guess I should have said “lawful discrimination.”

bob leblah

December 22nd, 2010
10:48 pm

Hey genius, if 25% of those filing bankruptcy are black and blacks are 13% of the population that means they file at almost double their “share”. Apparently only whites and blacks file bankruptcy according to you also.

Dr. John Trotter

December 22nd, 2010
10:49 pm

For what it is worth: I enjoy reading TopSchool’s postings and appreciate his doggedness. I think that he is making very valid points. As I have always said…it’s all about the Cheddar. Rich folk get away with a lot more than poor folk do. Rich folk — because of their money and connections — are more empowered. You always get more “justice” when you have more money, right? It’s not always about black or white. It’s about money. Keep pouring it on, TopSchool. The AJC may eventually take on those whom Jesus took on. Ha! It is that time a year, eh?

bob leblah

December 22nd, 2010
10:50 pm

Tanisha.. thank you. I know that’s not easy to say.

bob leblah

December 22nd, 2010
10:52 pm

Dr. John, that’s true….

Spark ghetto

December 22nd, 2010
11:14 pm

@topschool-
You seem a little mentally unstable. I say bravo to Principal Reich for putting the ESL students in a separate class. Why harm my child by taking all the teachers time with illegals?

eddawg

December 22nd, 2010
11:58 pm

Spark ghetto, your comments about illegals & the ASSumption that these ELLs are illegal is rather ghetto as your name the implies. Let me take this time to educate the uneducated on ESOL matters in the state of GA. Due to Plyer vs Doe schools do know a student’s immigration status when entering schools. They must prove that they live in the school district, have shot records & prove with a birth certificate who their parents are. ELLs in elementary & middle school can receive up to 2 segments of daily instruction with an ESOL teacher in either pull-out (separate class) or push-in (ESOL teacher in withthe regular ed. Teacher & class. In high school ELLs, I believe, can receive up to 5 segments depending on the amount of sheltered courses offered.

eddawg

December 23rd, 2010
12:01 am

Sorry … schools do not know the immigration status. Typing on a smart phone.

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just browsing

December 23rd, 2010
4:57 am

There are problems all over- not just in the black community. Mr. LeBlah- the article notes blacks account for 10 percent of the filings- where did you get 25 percent from?

ElreyJones

December 23rd, 2010
5:18 am

What a bunch of lies. The EEOC is racist against whites and other non-blacks. African people in the USA ARE THE PROBLEM! They committ all the crime, rapes, and murders. They are the ones who racially cleanse non-africans out of their neighborhoods. They are the ones mudering people all over Atlanta who are just trying to work. Give the africans rubbers and encourage them to quit committing their vicious civil and human rights abuses.

ElreyJones

December 23rd, 2010
5:23 am

Oh I forgot to add “Merry Christmas”. Say a prayer to Jesus – he’s got the answers you need. And get out of that racist ranting Nation of Islam church. Of course it is not a church but a racist and powerful political organization.