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Vanguard Sued for Race Discrimination Over Hiring of Financial Planning Manager

October 12, 2009
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The Vanguard Group Inc. is alleged to have violated federal discrimination law in rejecting a black job applicant, according to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Barbara Alexander was the only black applicant for a financial planning manager position at Vanguard’s Charlotte, North Carolina, office, according to the EEOC suit, which was filed September 30 in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

During a lengthy application process, she was told she was “obviously qualified for the position,” but Vanguard later said it did not select her because she was unqualified, in part because she did not have any financial planner certification, the suit alleges.

The suit goes on to say that Vanguard hired a less-qualified white applicant who lacked the certified financial planner designation, and who—unlike Alexander—did not have work experience in financial planning.

Alexander had 14 years of financial management experience and an MBA in finance, according to the EEOC.

Rebecca Katz, a spokeswoman for Vanguard, denied there was any discrimination in the hiring decision.

“Vanguard does not tolerate discrimination of any kind and we have a deep commitment to hiring and retaining a diverse workforce, believing that diversity of people, ideas and viewpoints is one of our most important assets,” she said in an e-mail Friday, October 9. “We believe that the allegations in the complaint have no merit.”

Debra Lawrence, acting regional attorney with the EEOC’s Philadelphia district office, said in a statement: “Unfortunately, 45 years after enactment of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964, the EEOC continues to see far too many cases of race discrimination against African-Americans. This lawsuit should remind employers that the EEOC will take action when a company impermissibly makes hiring decisions based on the race of the applicants instead of on their experience and qualifications.”


Filed by David Hoffman of InvestmentNews, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail editors@workforce.com.

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