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Discrimination claims at the CFPB

Employment discrimination cases are inherently complex. Except in cases of blatant and stupid discrimination, where someone makes clearly discriminatory remarks or makes derogatory statements in an email or written documentation, much employment discrimination is subtle. It is often apparent only when looking for something that is not, such as why there is a racial or gender disparity among a workforce.

In some cases, some areas have improved over time. For instance, as more women have obtained advanced degrees, they have achieved a higher share of professional positions within the federal government's agencies. In many other areas and certainly within discrete segments of agencies, there may still be varying levels of discrimination operating.

Questions have been raised regarding potential racial bias at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency that is responsible for assuring financial institutions maintain fair lending practices. The agency has been accused of racial discrimination and retaliation by a black attorney at the agency.

A congressional subcommittee had requested officials from the CFPB testify regarding the claims. The chair of the subcommittee stated that the allegations are "just the tip of the iceberg."

A report found a disparity in performance reviews at the CFPB, with white employees receiving the highest possible performance score at a rate twice that of black employees. The agency's director has said they are working to "further our commitment" for fairness, but speaking of commitment is the easy part.

The question is whether the performance disparity had justification in facts, or if racial bias and discrimination played a part.

Source: Washington Post, "Will the CFPB testify about employee-discrimination allegations?" Josh Hicks, April 28, 2014

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