DOJ Sues S. Dakota DSS for Discrimination Against Tribal Job Applicants

DOJ Press release here.

U.S. v. S.D. DSS Complaint here.

According to the complaint, in October 2010, Cedric Goodman, a Native American with supervisory experience as a social worker, as well as several other well-qualified Native Americans, applied for an Employment Specialist position at DSS’s Pine Ridge Office.  The complaint alleges that after interviewing Goodman and the other Native American candidates who met the employer’s objective job qualifications, DSS removed the vacancy and hired no one.  The next day, however, DSS reopened the position and ultimately selected a white applicant with inferior qualifications and no similar work experience.  The complaint alleges that DSS discriminated against Goodman and other similarly-situated Native American applicants based on their race.

In addition, the complaint alleges that denying Goodman’s application was part of a pattern or practice of race discrimination by DSS, where the agency repeatedly removed job postings and used subjective, arbitrary hiring practices to reject qualified Native American applicants for Specialist positions.

Over a two year period beginning in 2010, DSS posted 18 Specialist vacancies for its Pine Ridge Reservation Office.  Even though the agency received nearly 40 percent of its applications from Native Americans, DSS hired 11 Whites and only one Native American, while removing six other openings entirely.

About Sarah M Donnelly

Program Coordinator for the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University College of Law.
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