NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Charges of Racial Discrimination Plague High-tech Companies

July 24, 2000

In recent months, high-tech firms have been fighting complaints alleging racial discrimination. Minority employees who feel they have been the victims of discrimination file complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or seek out class-action law firms.

Some lawyers see high-tech companies as the next big target of class-action suits.

  • The National Urban League and other black leaders are fighting moves to double to 200,000 the number of H1-B visas for high-tech foreign workers -- arguing that companies should hire more black and Hispanic Americans.
  • The advocacy groups cite a major study last year of 250 Silicon Valley firms employing 142,000 workers which found that only 4 percent of employees were black and 8 percent were Hispanic -- although in the San Francisco Bay area, blacks and Hispanics make up 8 percent and 14 percent of the workforce respectively, according to the Labor Department.
  • Of the 25,100 executives and managers at the firms, 2 percent were black as of 1997 and 3 percent were Hispanic.
  • Of the 61,238 professionals such as engineers and technicians at the firms, 3 percent were black and 5 percent were Hispanic.

In an effort to hunt out discrimination at high-tech companies, the EEOC recently beefed up its San Francisco district office -- nearly doubling its staff to 50 investigators and lawyers. The commission says it hopes to send a message by taking on a large Silicon Valley firm or two.

Source: Edward Iwata, "Race Issues Shake Tech World," USA Today, July 24, 2000.


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