Fort Smith-based Baldor Electric Co., which was bought by Swiss conglomerate ABB in 2010, has agreed to settle a discrimination complaint with the federal government and will pay a $2 million fine.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs said Baldor was alleged to have engaged in “systemic discrimination stemming from the company's applicant screening process” at its facility in Fort Smith.
Labor department investigators determined that the process violated Executive Order 11246 by creating a disparate impact on women and minorities.
“As a result, 795 qualified women, African-Americans and job seekers of Asian and Hispanic descent were denied the opportunity to advance to the interview stage when applying for production and laborer positions,” the Labor Department said in a statement.
Under the terms of the agreement, Baldor will pay a total of $2 million in back wages and interest to the affected individuals and will make at least 50 job offers to members of the original class as positions become available. The company also has agreed to undertake extensive self-monitoring measures to ensure that all hiring practices fully comply with the law, including recor
Baldor Electric manufactures industrial motors and generators.
UPDATE: The City Wire reports Baldor's response to the Labor Department.
Baldor spokeswoman Tracy Long said the DOL review and findings were based only on statistical analysis.
“It was pure modeling. … We never had any complaints from this group. There were no complaints,” Long said Monday. “I think most folks in our area know that Baldor has always been committed to doing the right thing, for our communities and the people who work for us.”
She added that the company finally decided to agree to DOL terms to make the long-standing issue go away.
“Rather than go through anything lengthier or more expensive, we decided we’d just like to be done with it,” Long explained.
Long also said the “actions taken by them (DOL) could convince a company that it’s easier to take their operations offshore, but that’s not what Baldor wants to do. … We’re committed to keeping those (manufacturing operations) in the U.S., and taking care of our people here.”