DSS Sued by DOJ for Employment Discrimination

The United States Department of Justice has filed a federal lawsuit against the South Dakota Department of Social Services alleging employment discrimination against Native American job applicants.  You can view the DOJ press release here, and the federal court complaint here.

The complaint alleges that the Pine Ridge DSS office hired less-qualified white people rather than more-qualified Native American applicants. In particular, it alleges that the office hired a white woman fresh out of college rather than hiring Cedric Goodman, a Native American with a college degree and supervisory experience as a social worker.  The facts of the case date back to 2010, when Goodman made a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).  The EEOC investigated and found “reasonable cause” to believe that discrimination had occurred.  After failing to reach any agreement for resolution with the State of South Dakota, the EEOC referred the matter to the DOJ, which brought the suit.

The facts presented so far, and the fact that the EEOC already essentially found against DSS, certainly do not look good for the State.  But, it would be remarkably stupid for the State to have not settled the case through discussions with the EEOC if it did not believe it could justify its actions.  It will be interesting to see what justifications are offered.

I note that the Pine Ridge DSS office handles economic assistance, but does not handle child abuse matters.