Bank of America will pay $1 million in back wages to more than 1,000 black job applicants to settle a 24-year-old discrimination case involving Charlotte predecessor NationsBank, the U.S. Department of Labor announced Monday.
The settlement follows a 1993 Labor Department review of NationsBank’s Charlotte office in which DOL reported “systemic” hiring violations against black applicants for entry-level jobs. The department said its review, conducted by a DOL office that protects workers from employment discrimination by federal contractors, determined NationsBank discriminated against applicants for clerical, teller and administrative jobs.
Charlotte-based Bank of America – the result of the 1998 merger of Charlotte’s NationsBank and San Francisco’s BankAmerica – doesn’t admit liability in reaching the deal, the Labor Department said.
In a statement, Bank of America said it remains committed to fair hiring practices.
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“While we continue to disagree with the Department of Labor’s analyses, we are pleased to have resolved this nearly-25-year-old matter,” the bank said.
Bank of America reached the settlement despite having challenged the Labor Department’s findings and the $1 million in payments. Last year, the bank argued in a complaint filed in federal court in Washington that DOL’s administrative proceedings were unlawful and that findings of intentional discrimination by the bank were erroneous.
That filing came after Bank of America in 2013 was ordered to pay $2.2 million to black job applicants whom the Labor Department said were unfairly rejected for teller and clerical positions. An administrative judge told the bank to pay $964,000 to more than 1,000 applicants from 1993 and $1.22 million to 113 people who were rejected in 2002 to 2005. The bank was also ordered to make job offers to 10 people.
But in April last year, DOL’s administrative review board canceled the $1.22 million award, citing insufficient evidence, but kept in place the rest of the judge’s decision.
Under the terms of Monday’s agreement, Bank of America will pay back wages and interest to 1,027 black applicants for North Carolina jobs, the Labor Department said. The settlement does not require Bank of America to offer jobs to employees originally turned down, a change from DOL’s 2013 order that required the bank to make offers to 10 former applicants.
In a statement, Thomas Dowd, acting director of DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, called the settlement a “win” for the affected job applicants, Bank of America and the Labor Department.
“Although much time and effort has gone into this case by all parties, the department is pleased that the matter has been resolved,” Dowd said. “It reinforces our nation’s founding principles of fair treatment and level playing fields.”
It’s not the first time a Charlotte-based bank has faced discrimination allegations from DOL’s contract compliance office. In 2004, Wachovia agreed to pay $5.5 million to resolve claims of pay discrimination against 2,021 current and former female employees.
More recently, the Labor Department in January filed a lawsuit against New York’s JPMorgan Chase, alleging it systematically discriminated against female employees in some technology jobs by paying them less than male counterparts.
Bloomberg News contributed.