A proposed class action lawsuit alleges Assemblers, Inc. and Total Staffing Solutions, Inc. have consistently denied work opportunities to qualified Black laborers based solely on race.
The plaintiff, identified in the suit as African American Indiana resident, claims she was “repeatedly denied” work assignments at Assemblers between November 2015 and August 2018 after seeking employment through Total Staffing’s Chicago office.
“At all relevant times, almost no African American laborers have been assigned to work at the Assemblers Bedford Park facility,” the lawsuit alleges.
Filed by non-profit groups the National Legal Advocacy Network and Raise the Floor Alliance, the 23-page case says Assemblers operates food manufacturing and packaging facilities in Bedford Park, McCook, and Chicago, Illinois that are primarily staffed by temporary employment agencies such as Total Staffing. Total Staffing recruits who the lawsuit says are low- and moderately skilled workers to fill ongoing work orders at client companies such as Assemblers, per the case.
According to the lawsuit, the jobs for which Total Staffing’s Chicago office refers candidates do not require special skills, training or qualifications.
Upon filling out an application at the temp agency, the plaintiff was told she would have to call Total Staffing on any given day to ask if work was available, at which point she would be assigned any open position, the suit says. Per the complaint, although Assemblers and other companies were accepting work assignments for which the plaintiff was qualified, the woman either did not receive any assignments or received only “short and sporadic” work until November 2015, when she was assigned to a two-month position at Assemblers’ Bedford Park facility.
While working for Assemblers in 2015, the plaintiff noticed that the “overwhelming majority” of laborers hired to work at the facility through employment agencies were non-Black, Hispanic workers, according to the lawsuit.
After the plaintiff’s 2015 assignment ended and until August 2018, Total Staffing failed or refused to assign the woman additional work at Assemblers, the complaint alleges. Though the plaintiff called regularly to inquire about available work, Total Staffing relayed that no work was available and she would be called as soon as an assignment became open, the suit says.
According to the case, however, Total Staffing never called the plaintiff with a work assignment. When the woman went to seek a job directly at Assemblers’ Bedford Park facility, she was told that she would have to apply through a staffing agency, the case shares. After visiting the facility in August 2018, the plaintiff was then instructed by Total Staffing to fill out an updated application, the lawsuit continues. That month, the plaintiff began receiving consistent work assignments to Assemblers’ Bedford Park location, according to the suit.
During her time at Assemblers, the plaintiff observed that “less than 5%” of the facility’s 200 laborers were Black, while the rest appeared to be Hispanic, according to the case. Moreover, the plaintiff allegedly learned that non-Black laborers with whom she had worked during her 2015 stint at Assemblers had received consistent assignments to the company through Total Staffing during the times when she was told there was no work.
The lawsuit alleges Total Staffing, at the request of Assemblers, refused to assign jobs at the facility to the plaintiff and other qualified Black workers solely because of their race.
Moreover, the plaintiff claims that even after she began receiving assignments at Assemblers, the company consistently denied her requests to complete tasks that would improve her chances of becoming a permanent employee, instead offering the work to non-Black workers. From the complaint:
“From in or around August 2018 up until June 2020, Assemblers regularly granted non-African American Hispanic laborers the opportunity to complete various tasks that Plaintiff requested to complete after Plaintiff requested to complete said tasks even though those non-African American Hispanic laborers were no more qualified to complete the tasks than Plaintiff.”
Still further, the plaintiff alleges that although Assemblers informed her on several occasions that no permanent positions at Assemblers were available, the facility did, in fact, have open jobs that were filled by non-Black laborers.
According to the suit, the plaintiff and other Black laborers were just as qualified, and in some cases more qualified, than those who were given permanent positions yet were denied the jobs based on their race.
The lawsuit alleges violations of both the federal Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the Illinois Day and Temporary Labor Services Act.
The full complaint can be read below.
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