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Rail News: Norfolk Southern Railway

NS settles hiring discrimination case


Norfolk Southern Corp. will pay nearly $500,000 to 2,086 African-Americans as part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor to resolve allegations of race-based hiring discrimination, federal officials announced yesterday.

The case involves an NS business unit in its engineering department, Maintenance of Way No. 34, which entered into the agreement with the department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). NS is a federal contractor that has had more than $10 million contracts with the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of the Navy, U.S. Department of Air Force and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services.

The agreement was reached after the OFCCP determined the company failed to provide equal employment opportunities to 2,086 African-Americans who applied for the track laborer and building and bridge laborer positions at NS' facility in Roanoke, Va., department officials said in a press release.

During a scheduled compliance evaluation, OFCCP found that from Jan. 1, 2010, through Dec. 31, 2011, the MOW No. 34 engaged in hiring practices that discriminated against African-American applicants.

The company's actions violated Executive Order 11246 that prohibits federal contractors from discrimination based on race or color in their employment practices, department officials said.

"Workers should never be denied a fair shot at employment because of factors that have absolutely nothing to do with their ability to effectively perform the job," said OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu. "This case highlights our commitment to combatting discrimination that gets in the way of equal employment opportunities for qualified workers."

Under the agreement terms, the company — which has not admitted liability — will pay $492,000 in back pay and interest to the African-American applicants. Norfolk Southern also agreed to make job offers to seven of the non-selected applicants.

Additionally, NS agreed to stop using the selection procedures in question for the track laborer and building and bridge laborer positions, and to review and modify its employment practices including recruitment, screening, interviewing, selection, rejection and hiring in order to comply with Executive Order 11246.

The agreement resolves all violations found by OFCCP.

NS declined to comment on the agreement.

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