Rockland Bakery Inc. agreed to pay $850,000 to a class of female, Black and Asian job applicants affected by the government contractor’s discriminatory recruitment process, the U.S. Department of Labor said.
The baked goods company, which provides food to the U.S. Military Academy, struck a deal with the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs after the watchdog found in an investigation that the company’s reliance on word-of-mouth referrals to recruit new bakers, cashiers and packers in its Nanuet, New York, facility resulted in harmful hiring disparities throughout 2017, the DOL said Thursday.
"This investigation demonstrates that federal contractors should not rely solely on employee referrals to replace good faith outreach and recruitment, especially when their applicant pools do not resemble the available workforce in the communities they serve," OFCCP Northeast Regional Director Diana Sen said in a statement.
The agency's investigation determined that Rockland violated Executive Order 11246’s anti-discrimination provisions requiring federal contractors to meet affirmative action policies, as a partner with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and as a preferred vendor for food service management companies such as Aramark that provide food to federal prisons.
However, according to the conciliation agreement, Rockland maintains that it did not break the law. Still, it has agreed to put $739,500 of the class settlement fund toward back pay, plus $110,500 in interest.
Rockland also agreed to prioritize hiring class members when positions open up in its Nanuet facility. The OFCCP expects the bakery to extend 52 job opportunities to reach an affirmative action hiring quota for each of the three positions and to immediately put an end to its current word-of-mouth recruitment process. In its place, the OFCCP says Rockland must implement a written job posting and selection procedure that is fair and transparent and grant the agency access to its applicant tracking system.
"Moving beyond word-of-mouth recruiting — by advertising positions online, or posting openings with state job boards and local organizations — ensures that more job-seekers in the community, not just the friends and family of employees, are made aware of openings and have an opportunity to apply," an OFCCP spokesperson said Friday.