D.C. contractor will pay 400 minority job seekers to settle discrimination charges

Construction company M.C. Dean Inc. will provide payments to nearly 400 former job seekers at its Sterling, Va., headquarters to settle allegations its hiring practices prevented minority applicants from obtaining positions, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

A review by the agency determined that in 2010 M.C. Dean — which has, over the years, been awarded a number of contracts by the D.C. government — used selection procedures for positions that “unfairly kept qualified minority candidates from securing jobs as apprentices and electricians.”

M.C. Dean’s selection procedures resulted in a statistically significant difference in the rates at which minorities and non-minorities were hired” into positions, the conciliation agreement between the Department of Labor and the company states.

The flawed application procedures included invalid tests, according to the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.

As a result of the settlement agreement, M.C. Dean will over the next six months pay $875,000 in back wages to 272 black, 98 Hispanic and 11 Asian job applicants who were denied employment in 2010. The company also has agreed to extend 39 job offers to some of those applicants as opportunities become available.

The Department of Labor did not provide details on the type of jobs applicants were denied or the timeline of when the payments to the applicants would be made.

A statement issued by the company says that the agreement does not include an admission that any discriminatory acts were committed.

“The agreement’s focus on employment tests and candidate selection procedures for Apprentices and Electricians does not indicate any of those tests or procedures were discriminatory,” the statement says.

The company also operates an apprenticeship program at Cardozo Senior High School in the District through which it recruits students for entry-level electrical careers. Department of Labor spokeswoman Leni Uddyback-Fortson said students from the school were not among the applicants involved in the settlement agreement.

Bill Dean, president and CEO of M.C. Dean, touted the company’s track record of local workforce hiring.

“The agreement in no way diminishes the success of M.C. Dean’s outreach initiatives in the past, nor will it hinder us from continuing to pioneer innovative workforce development initiatives in the future,” he said in a statement.

The company, which has held $600 million in federal contracts since 2006, recently was awarded contracts that include making renovations to the Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant and construction of portions of the D.C. streetcar line.

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