Investigating Allegations of Racial Discrimination in Promotions

The Situation

A well-known health care company, employing more than 56,000 people, was accused of racial discrimination in salary increases and promotions.

NERA's Role

NERA's experts were retained to design and select a sample of the company's employees, whose performance evaluations would then be reviewed to determine whether evidence of discrimination existed. We used information about the employees' departments, EEO categories, and job functions to divide the population into over 80 strata from which the sample was selected. We selected a stratified sample because we suspected that salary and promotion decisions might vary depending on they type of jobs that the employees performed, with certain job categories being less susceptible to discrimination. For example, the criteria for promoting a sales manager is likely different than that of promoting a research scientist. It is presumably more difficult to discriminate against a research scientist since his or her performance is likely based on objective standards, such as number of publications or scientific discoveries. A stratified sample allowed us to investigate such possibilities. By comparing characteristics of the selected sample to characteristics of the population, we were able to determine that our sample was representative of the population of employees at issue in the case.

The Result

By relying on a small but representative sample of 300 performance reviews, the company was able to investigate the allegations without having to undertake the time and expense of reviewing thousands of employee records.