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After ‘whites only’ job posting, tech staffing firm settles with DOJ, Labor

The U.S. Department of Labor and the Justice Department have reached an agreement with a Virginia-based IT staffing firm after finding a job posting discriminatory. Here, the Labor Department building is seen in Washington, D.C.
Alex Edelman
AFP via Getty Images
The U.S. Department of Labor and the Justice Department have reached an agreement with a Virginia-based IT staffing firm after finding a job posting discriminatory. Here, the Labor Department building is seen in Washington, D.C.

A job posting that included race and citizenship requirements — and the stipulation, “Don’t share with candidates” — has resulted in settlement agreements between Virginia-based IT staffing firm Arthur Grand Technologies Inc. and the U.S. government.

Under the arrangement, Arthur Grand will pay a civil penalty of $7,500, along with a total of $31,000 to 31 people who complained about the posting. The company — which is minority-owned and a federal contractor designated a disadvantaged business — will also be monitored to ensure compliance with anti-discrimination laws. 

“It is shameful that in the 21st century, we continue to see employers using ‘whites only’ and ‘only US born’ job postings to lock out otherwise eligible job candidates of color,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, which announced the agreements.

Arthur Grand “neither admits nor denies any violation,” the Department of Labor’s agreement states. But in a message to NPR, Arthur Grand CEO Sheik Rahmathullah said his company "vehemently denies any guilt or wrongdoing." The job posting was made by a rogue employee, he said.

What did the job posting say?

The job posting sparked outrage and accusations of discrimination when it circulated online last year, reading, “Only Born US Citizens [White] who are local within 60 miles from Dallas, TX [Don’t share with candidates].” The words in brackets are not paraphrases; they appeared in brackets in the posting, the Justice Department noted.

Arthur Grand Technologies was seeking someone to work in a “Salesforce Business Analyst and Insurance Claims position,” the Labor Department said. The job was to be based in Dallas.

The business analyst position "would serve two clients, HTC Global an information technology company based in Troy, Michigan, and Berkshire Hathaway, the multinational holding company based in Omaha, Nebraska," the DOJ stated, citing the job listing.

What did the federal agencies find?

The DOJ said Arthur Grand’s listing in March of 2023 violated the Immigration and Nationality Act. The Labor Department said the company also violated a long-standing executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating based on race, national origin and other protected characteristics.

In its separate agreement with Arthur Grand, the Labor Department says it also found other violations, saying the company didn’t have records tracking demographic characteristics of job applicants, such as their gender, race or ethnicity; and that the company didn’t post a notice of workers’ equal employment opportunity rights in conspicuous places.
“We are committed to holding federal contractors accountable for outrageous discriminatory practices like this advertisement,” said Acting Director Michele Hodge of the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). “Companies like Arthur Grand, that accept federal contracts, cannot have a ‘whites only’ hiring process.”

The Labor Department's agreement with the company includes a form letter to be sent to people who complained about Arthur Grand. They're told that if they want to take part in the agreement, they must sign a document reading in part, “I understand that AGT denies that it treated me unlawfully or unfairly in any way.”

By signing the document and receiving payment, the letter states, the complainants also agree not to file a lawsuit against the company.

What does Arthur Grand say?

Rahmathullah emphasized that Arthur Grand did not admit any guilt or wrongdoing, telling NPR that the staffing firm agreed to the DOJ and Labor deals "solely to avoid the significant financial toll and prolonged disruption that litigation would impose on our company."

"Arthur Grand Technologies vehemently denies any guilt or wrongdoing in relation to the discriminatory job posting," Rahmathullah said. The job notice was an "unauthorized posting," he added.

When the company became aware of what had happened, Rahmathullah said, "we took immediate and decisive action to ensure that this type of incident will never happen again, including the immediate termination of the responsible employee."

The CEO added, "we sincerely apologize for any harm caused by this incident and are committed to making meaningful changes to maintain the trust and confidence of our community and stakeholders."

The Justice Department acknowledged in its settlement agreement that the company had denied approving the job posting, with Arthur Grand asserting “that the posted advertisement was generated by a disgruntled recruiter in India and was intended to embarrass the company,” according to the DOJ.

What is Arthur Grand Technologies?

It’s an IT staffing firm, based in Ashburn, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C. The company's listed address corresponds to a two-story office complex about 10 miles north of Dulles International Airport. Its neighbors include dental and orthodontics offices, and an insurance company.

"We take pride in the fact that all the senior leadership positions in our company are held by persons of color, and over 80% of our staff are also people of color," Rahmathullah told NPR.

According to U.S. government records, Arthur Grand is certified as a Small Disadvantaged Business in the roster of federal contractors.

To qualify for that status, a majority of the company must be owned by “one or more disadvantaged persons,” who must also be “socially disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged.”

“Each year, the Federal Government awards about 10% of all federal contract dollars, or roughly $50 billion in contracts, to Small Disadvantaged Businesses,” according to the Small Business Administration.

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.