Caterpillar is set to pay $800,000 to settle claims of racial bias in hiring practices at their Decatur, Illinois plant, as found in a federal compliance examination.

Caterpillar Inc., a heavy equipment manufacturer, has reached a conciliation agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor to resolve allegations of systemic hiring discrimination against 60 Black applicants at its production facility in Decatur, Illinois. As part of the agreement, Caterpillar Inc. will pay $800,000 in back wages and interest to affected job applicants and offer jobs to 34 eligible class members. The company has also committed to ensuring its hiring policies and procedures are free from discrimination and providing training to all managers, supervisors, and other company officials involved in hiring decisions.

The allegations arose during a routine compliance review by the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), which enforces Executive Order 11246. This order prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on race, sex, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin. OFCCP found that Caterpillar discriminated against 60 Black applicants who applied for fabrication specialist/welder positions at its Decatur facility from March 30, 2018, to March 30, 2020.

OFCCP Acting Director Michele Hodge stated, “Over the past 58 years, OFCCP has helped define and defend equal employment opportunity in the American workplace. We are committed to tackling employment policies and practices that create barriers to opportunity and perpetuate inequality.” Regional Director Carmen Navarro in Chicago added, “Our agreement with Caterpillar exemplifies the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ commitment to addressing and remedying preliminary indicators of discrimination in our compliance evaluations.”

Caterpillar Inc. holds contracts to provide machinery to the U.S. Department of the Army and has held over $481 million in federal contracts since 2018. As part of the agreement, the company will also use OFCCP’s Class Member Locator to identify applicants or workers who may be entitled to monetary relief and/or consideration for job placement as a result of OFCCP’s compliance evaluations and complaint investigations.

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 aim to ensure equal employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities and protected veterans, respectively. This agreement serves as a reminder to federal contractors to monitor their hiring processes and ensure that all applicants are considered equally for employment, regardless of their race, sex, disability, or veteran status.  

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