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North Florida Plumbers and Pipefitters Trust Will Pay $207,000, Revise Training Program to Resolve Race Discrimination Claim


On January 10th, 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced a settlement with the Jacksonville Plumbers and Pipefitters Joint Apprenticeship and Training Trust (JPPJATT). The EEOC brought an employment law claim against the organization after allegations arose that it discriminated against African American applicants. Companies and organizations that offer apprenticeships and other formal job-training opportunities are still bound by most state and federal employment discrimination laws.

The Allegations: Race Discrimination 

The EEOC brought a lawsuit on behalf of prospective workers who alleged that they were denied an opportunity at an apprentice­ship simply because of their racial background (African American). In order to settle the employment discrimination claim, the Jacksonville Plumbers and Pipefitters Trust agreed to pay $207,500 in financial compensation to applicants affected by its previous policies.

Beyond that, the organization agreed to hire an independent consultant to help it assess and revise its selection and training procedures. Finally, it also agreed to hold future informational and outreach sections in areas within local African American communities. The federal agency commended the JPPJATT for the manner in which it ultimately handled the allegations brought against it. 

Apprenticeship Programs Must Comply With Anti-Discrimination Laws 

A representative for the EEOC noted the apprentice­ship opportunities offered by the Jacksonville Plumbers and Pipefitters Trust were valuable for people who were looking to start a career and make connections in the industry and in the community.

As such, denial of position based on race or any other protected characteristic could put a future employee at a distinct disadvantage. Under federal law, apprenticeship programs are subject to many anti-discrimination statutes. Indeed, this dates all the way back to the 1930s and the passage of the National Apprenticeship Act—which sought to reduce discrimination in job training. In the decades since that time, other requirements have been added that prohibit most apprenticeship programs from discriminating against candidates on the basis of race, gender, national origin, age, and disability status.

Those in charge of making selection decisions for apprenticeship programs should ensure that their organization is in full compliance with all relevant state and federal discrimination laws. Not only do individual decisions need to be fair, but the entire process should be designed in a manner to avoid creating discriminatory results. Failure to do so could lead to a program facing a lawsuit and harsh sanctions, potentially even significant financial penalties. The EEOC and Florida state regulators take these cases very seriously. 

Get Help From an Employment Lawyer in South Florida

At Pike & Lustig, LLP, our Miami employment law lawyers are skilled and effective advocates for our clients. We have the experience needed to handle complex discrimination cases. To set up a strictly confidential consultation with an attorney, please call us today. We represent employers and employees throughout Southeastern Florida, including in West Palm Beach, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale. We will work to help you find the best solution for your specific circumstances.




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