Norfolk Southern to pay $500K to settle discrimination charges

Norfolk Southern to pay $500K to settle discrimination charges
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One of the nation’s leading transportation companies has agreed to pay about $500,000 to settle allegations that it discriminated against black applicants when hiring for open positions.

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The Labor Department said Maintenance of Way No. 34 — a business unit in Norfolk Southern’s engineering department — "failed to provide equal employment opportunities to 2,086 African Americans who applied for the track laborer and building and bridge laborer positions at the company’s Roanoke facility."

The company, which through the agreement does not admit any liability, will pay $492,000 in back pay and interest to the rejected applicants and offer jobs to seven of them.

The company has also agreed to discontinue certain selection procedures for track, building and bridge laborer positions and to review and modify its employment practices to comply with laws that prohibit federal contractors from discriminating in their employment practices based on race or color.

“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,” Patricia Shiu, director of the agency’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, said in a statement. “This case highlights our commitment to combating discrimination that gets in the way of equal employment opportunities for qualified workers.”

Norfolk Southern Corp. is a federal contractor that, in recent years, has had more than $10 million in contracts with the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of the Navy, U.S. Department of Air Force, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, the Labor Department said in a news release.

A major transporter of coal, automotive and industrial products, the company operates about 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Maintenance of Way No. 34 is responsible for maintaining Virginia rail tracks throughout the state, including highways, roads, streets, and other management and consulting services.