Royal Oak, Mich., July 19, 2001 — A class action lawsuit was filed in Wayne County Circuit Court against the Detroit Edison Company arising out of its pre-employment testing policies.
The case, Beltran v. Detroit Edison Company, Case No. 01-123007-CZ, challenges Edison’s requirement that all applicants take and pass an entry level pre-employment test, and alleges that by imposing such a requirement, Edison unlawfully discriminated against Hispanics and persons of other national origins for whom English is not their first language.
Beltran, a Hispanic, worked at Edison as an independent contractor continuously for over 20 years. According to Beltran’s attorney Stephen Wasinger, Beltran was an exemplary experienced contract worker who for years performed job duties in various positions at Edison, yet Edison refused to allow her to take the required pre-employment test during her first eight years as a contract worker with the company. Wasinger stated that when Edison did permit Beltran to test, she purportedly failed. Wasinger alleged that Edison then refused to hire Beltran as an employee, but continued to retain her as a contract worker for another ten years.
During that decade, Wasinger claimed, Edison repeatedly refused to allow Beltran to retest. According to Wasinger, when she was finally afforded another opportunity to retest, Beltran again purportedly failed and Edison refused to hire her. Although Ms. Beltran allegedly complained to Edison that English was not her first language and she could not complete the test in the allotted time which caused her to fail, Edison supposedly refused to make any accommodations in the testing procedure. Wasinger stated, that after the second testing, Beltran retained counsel, Edison relented and Beltran became an Edison employee in 1999.
The lawsuit alleges that Edison’s pre-employment test did not correlate with or predict an applicant’s ability to perform on the job since Beltran and other class members were already functioning in the positions in which they worked. The suit also alleges that Edison’s failure to accommodate those for whom English was not their first language had a disparate impact upon Hispanics and persons of other national origins.
Further, the suit alleges that Edison’s total control over the testing procedures allowed it to keep person such as Beltran in the status of “contract” workers and to avoid payment of compensation and benefits to which such workers would have been entitled had they been hired by Edison as full-time employees.
For Beltran, this meant that by the time she became an Edison employee, she was close to retirement age and she had insufficient time vested to obtain certain benefits.
The Plaintiff class is being represented by Stephen Wasinger of Wasinger Kickham and Hanley a Royal Oak, Michigan law firm specializing in complex commercial litigation, including class actions.