Testers' Choice at EEOC

Article excerpt

In a highly controversial move last December, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)-the federal agency that enforces fair employment and hiring laws-decided to start accepting complaints from "testers." Testers are individuals sent out by civil and community rights groups to pose as potential job applicants in order to detect discriminatory employment practices. With this policy change, the EEOC is taking a much more active and aggressive role in ferreting out instances of unfair hiring practices, say agency watchers.

There is currently a crime wave of employment discrimination taking place across the country. We welcome all the help we can get in stamping it out," said EEOC Chairman Evan J. Kemp, Jr. in announcing the policy change. Job applicants can face the most egregious discrimination and not even be aware of it. This is one way we're trying to be more effective." Agency officials say they will review cases filed by testers against employers, employment agencies and labor unions that involve alleged hiring discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, age or national origin.

Although testers have been around for a while, uncovering evidence of possible discrimination against minorities in housing and real estate, they have rarely been used by civil rights groups-until now. Experts believe it is much more difficult to design a testing program involving employment-related cases that will stand up in court. In fact, some business groups think that testers will only add unjustified suits to EEOC's already overburdened backlog of cases. …