Judge Orders Enterprise Holdings to Pay Millions in Discrimination Lawsuit

A federal judge with the Department of Labor has ordered the Baltimore-area subsidiary of Enterprise Holdings to pay more than $6.6 million in lost earnings and benefits to 2,336 African American applicants who were rejected from the company’s management trainee program. Administrative Law Judge Morris D. Davis found the Maryland-based federal contractor engaged in “a pattern and practice of discriminating against African American applicants for these entry-level management jobs” for a period of more than 10 years, the department said in a statement. The department’s report reviewed 560 Black applicants and found that white employees were nearly twice as likely to be chosen for a management training slot. The company was ordered to pay back wages with benefits and interest, an estimated value of at least $7.2 million, within two years. Enterprise Holdings is the parent company of Enterprise, National, and Alamo car rentals.

The judge also ordered the company to extend job offers to 182 of the 2,336 rejected applicants by July 31, 2021, including any pay they would have received if they had been hired at the time they were rejected. The department said that the value of the 182 new hires would reach at least $9.1 million and the total earnings, benefits, and interest would hit at least $16.3 million. “The judge’s order stands for fairness in employment, and sends a clear message of the serious costs of hiring discrimination,” Oscar L. Hampton III, the department’s regional solicitor in Philadelphia, said in a statement.

The ruling represents the largest back wage award in the Department of Labor’s Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

Davis also banned Enterprise RAC Company of Baltimore LLC, which had a federal contract, from participating in any current or future federal government contracts until it agrees to implement specific steps to address past discrimination and stop it from happening again in the future.

A discrimination investigation was launched by the Department of Labor in 2008 when the business office in Linthicum, Maryland employed about 160 people. Davis delivered his order on July 17 after a week-long trial in June.

“OFCCP remains committed to enforcing laws that forbid hiring discrimination,” said Michele Hodge, the regional director for OFCCP in Philadelphia. “Government contractors must monitor their hiring process to ensure that applicants are not rejected based on discrimination or biases. When an employer like Enterprise finds that its hiring process [is] discriminatory, that employer must make corrections to its process to ensure equal employment opportunity for all applicants.”

Enterprise Holdings spokeswoman Laura Bryant told The North Star that the company “respectfully disagree[s] with the decision” and is looking into ways to challenge or appeal the order.

Bryant said the company has a strong record of equal opportunity in hiring and employment and does not tolerate discrimination against employees or applicants. Enterprise works to make sure that its workforce is as diverse as the community it serves, Bryant added. The spokeswoman said the company fully cooperating with the investigation, but the judge “ignore[d] the evidence” in the case. An “exhaustive review of every employment application in question” showed Enterprise acted appropriately in each case, Bryant said. Enterprise’s percentage of African American hires in entry-level management positions in the greater Baltimore area is 44 percent, “a selection rate that exceeds the availability of African Americans for such positions in the reasonable recruitment area.” Bryant told The North Star that the company also works “diligently to support organizations in the community that share our commitment to diversity.” “In addition, we have dedicated college recruiters who focus on historically Black colleges and universities in the Baltimore region in our effort to achieve equal opportunity,” Bryant concluded. The company had a federal contract for rental cars with the US Military Traffic Management Command worth more than $10,000. As a condition of its federal contract, Enterprise had to keep personnel and employment records for a minimum of two years, analyze its hires, and establish a system to analyze the success of its affirmative action program, The Baltimore Sun reported.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.