Lund Boat Co. and its parent company on Tuesday agreed to a $295,000 settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor over allegations that the boatmaker discriminated against hiring women at its manufacturing plant in New York Mills in northwestern Minnesota.
Lund parent Brunswick Corp. agreed to pay back wages and interest to some 185 female job applicants who were rejected after applying for entry-level positions at the plant. However, the Lake Forest, Ill.-based company, which reported $3.75 billion in revenue last year, did not admit any wrongdoing in the matter.
In a complaint filed in November 2011, the Labor Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs claimed Lund discriminated against applicants for general laborer positions between 2006 and 2007.
Patricia Shiu, director of the Labor Department's compliance programs office, said in a statement that the settlement "will provide immediate relief to the women involved and lasting protections for all job seekers who apply to work for Lund and Brunswick in the future." Companies that hold federal contracts, she said, must "give workers a fair shot at employment and do not use gender as a factor when it comes to deciding who gets a job and who doesn't."
In a statement, Brunswick said it cooperated with the Labor Department to reach the agreement. "In doing so, the companies admitted to no wrongdoing. Brunswick and Lund Boat are equal opportunity employers and continue to strive for a diverse workforce."
In the past two years, Brunswick has held federal contracts worth more than $248 million with agencies including the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.
According to the complaint, Lund officials attributed the under-selection of female applications to their "preference for applicants with manufacturing or related experience." The complaint notes, however, that even men without manufacturing or related experience were selected at a higher rate than women with appropriate experience.
Lund must also hire at least 27 women in the original lawsuit class as positions open up. Seven members of the original class have already been hired, according to the Department of Labor.
The company also agreed to maintain required employment records, engage in self-monitoring measures to ensure that hiring practices fully comply with labor law, and submit detailed progress reports to the government for the next two years.
Brunswick owns a variety of businesses, ranging from bowling centers to fitness and recreational equipment. It added Lund to its lineup when it acquired Lund Boat from Genmar Industries in 2004. The settlement was accepted Tuesday by Chief Administrative Law Judge Stephen Purcell in Washington, D.C.
Janet Moore 612-673-7752