Program Intentionally Discriminated Against Blacks in Its Hiring Process, Federal Agency Charges

     MIAMI – Jacksonville Plumbers and Pipefitters Joint Apprenticeship and Training Trust (JPP), which sponsors an apprenticeship program that seeks to produce journeypersons to work in the plumbing and pipefitting industries in Northeast Florida, engaged in a pattern or practice of race discrimination by failing to hire black apprentices, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed today. Additionally, JPP’s use of arbitrarily scored interview criteria to hire apprentices has a disparate impact against black applicants, the lawsuit claims.

      Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (Case No. 3:18-cv-862-J-32JRK) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division, after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The agency seeks monetary relief for applicants denied employment because of race, the adoption of a new hiring process to correct and prevent future racial discrimination in hiring by JPP, training for those involved in the hiring process, and other relief.

      “The JPP apprenticeship program is a gateway to union membership and access to jobs that are well above the average salary in the area,” said Robert E. Weisberg, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Miami District. “The trust’s insistence on using a subjective and arbitrary hiring practice has deprived qualified black applicants of these valuable opportunities. Subjective decision making allows for both intentional and unintentional racial bias to infect the hiring process.”

      The EEOC’s Miami district director, Michael Farrell, added, “According to the 2016 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, Jacksonville’s black residents experience higher unemployment rates than its white residents. The trust’s hiring practices perpetuate this injustice, and the EEOC will zealously protect the rights of workers affected by discrimination in hiring.”

      JPP is Jacksonville’s local union affiliate registered with the International Pipe Trades Joint Training Committee. JPP’s five-year apprenticeship program combines on-the-job training with class-room instruction.

      The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.  Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.