Temp agency faces discrimination suit from African-American job seekers

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CHICAGO — MVP Staffing is a job placement agency that operates 60 offices including one in Batesville, Mississippi.

Its vehicles carry thousands of mostly temporary workers to client companies every day.

It now stands accused of rigging the business against African Americans.

Built on the testimony of alleged MVP whistleblowers, a lawsuit charges the company systematically placed Hispanics over blacks for one simple reason: Hispanics were often undocumented and less inclined to complain about hours, wages or conditions.

“The actions of MVP that we’ve uncovered were either directly responsive to the client companies’ demands or what they anticipated the client companies wanted,” said Joseph Sellers, an attorney for the group of African-American plaintiffs.

Kevin James, 29, said he turned to MVP Staffing after a string of odd jobs. He said that he sought a job through MVP at least 20 times, but was hired for just one.

James has been out of work for the last month, and has little recourse but to turn to placement agencies like MVP.

“I was hoping that I could go through one of those companies and seek help for work,” James said. “It is very frustrating.”

African Americans make up 29 percent of Chicago’s population, but account for 52 percent of the city’s unemployed. The lack of jobs, or even the hope of landing one, is considered a factor in the city’s escalating violence.

“People respond to that feeling of disenfranchisement in a variety of ways. And some may respond with violence, others respond in other ways,” Sellers said. “But it really is sort of a cancer in the fabric of the community.”

CBS News has called and e-mailed MVP Staffing for a reaction when the suit was filed on Tuesday, but the company had no comment.

The workers involved in the case are suing for an end to the discrimination, and for the wages they say they have lost because of it.

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