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Labor Dept: Baltimore-area Enterprise Rent-A-Car discriminated against black applicants

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a complaint against a Baltimore-area subsidiary of Enterprise Holdings, accusing the car rental company of discriminating against black applicants when selecting people for the management track.

The complaint, filed with the Labor Department's office of administrative law judges, says Enterprise RAC Company of Baltimore LLC favored white applicants during entry-level screening to be management trainees and did not keep proper personnel and employment records.

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The alleged violations surfaced during a 2008 review by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and were confirmed by a subsequent analysis of hundreds of applications, according to the complaint. The company was notified in 2013, but efforts at mediation failed, according to the suit, which says the discrimination is ongoing.

The suit asks the court to order relief, including back pay, for affected black applicants or to bar the firm from participating in federal contracts.

"All workers deserve a fair shot at equal employment opportunities and advancement," said Patricia A. Shiu, director of the federal contract compliance office, in a statement. "Our action against Enterprise highlights our commitment to combatting discrimination against qualified workers."

The Labor Department review looked at 560 black applicants, though the department does not allege that all should have been hired, said a spokeswoman, Joanna P. Hawkins. White people were almost twice as likely to be selected for a management trainee slot, she said.

An Enterprise Holdings spokeswoman said the firm has a "strong record of equal opportunity in our hiring and employment practices" and disagrees with the department's decision to file a complaint. The firm is committed to minority outreach, she wrote in an email, pointing to recruitment efforts that focus on historically black colleges and universities, among other things.

The firm also cooperated with the investigation, with an "exhaustive review" of employment applications, she said. The firm has an applicant tracking system that keeps adequate records, she added.

"We're disappointed that, after all this time, the Department of Labor has apparently chosen to ignore the evidence and proceed with this action," wrote the spokeswoman, Christine Cavallini, in an email. "We work hard to ensure that our workforce mirrors the diversity of the communities we serve. That's why we are moving immediately to defend against the Department's decision."

Enterprise RAC Company of Baltimore has 52 branches and more than 1,300 employees, Cavallini said. She said 48 percent of its current entry-level management employees are African-American.

Hawkins said the complaint applies to Enterprise's business office in Linthicum, which employed about 160 people when the Labor Department started its investigation in 2008.

Enterprise RAC is a subcontractor on a $10,000-plus contract to provide rental cars to the U.S. Military Traffic Management Command. As a contractor, it is required to keep personnel and employment records for at least two years, analyze its selections and develop a system to periodically measure the success of its affirmative action program.

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