ROANOKE, Va. (AP) - The U.S. Labor Department has sued Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., alleging hiring discrimination against hundreds of women who sought jobs at its Danville plant in the late 1990s.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday seeks to have Goodyear, which is based in Akron, Ohio, hire and provide back wages, retroactive seniority and all other employment benefits to the female applicants who were denied employment.
From January 1998 through June 1999, Goodyear followed ''a hiring process and selection procedures that discriminated against hundreds of female applicants for entry-level positions on the basis of gender,'' the Labor Department said in a statement Wednesday.
Jo Andrews, a spokeswoman for Goodyear in Danville, said the company denies the charges and is working with the department to resolve the matter.
The complaint was initiated following a routine review by the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs in Richmond, a department spokeswoman said. As a federal contractor, Goodyear is prohibited from employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin.
''Companies doing business with the federal government have a responsibility to take all of the steps necessary to establish and maintain an equal opportunity employment program,'' said Patsy Baker Blackshear, acting regional director of the department's office in Philadelphia that ensures contractor compliance with laws barring employment discrimination.
The complaint was filed with the Office of Administrative Law Judges in Washington, D.C., which serves as the trial court for many of the Labor Department's programs. The company has until July 3 to file a response.
Goodyear employs about 2,400 people at its Danville plant, but Andrews would not comment on the demographics.