Employment Service Needs To Emphasize Equal Opportunity in Job Referrals

HRD-80-95: Published: Sep 17, 1980. Publicly Released: Sep 17, 1980.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

The Employment Service finds jobs for people and people for jobs. It is operated jointly by the Department of Labor and the states through local employment offices.

The Employment Service offices which GAO visited generally referred minorities and women to lower paying jobs traditionally held by minorities and women in proportions greater than their representation among applicants. These were low or semiskilled positions, such as maids, porters, domestic workers, retail sales clerks, and clerical workers. Whites and males were referred to better paying jobs in proportions greater than their representation among applicants. Minority and female applicants were often unskilled or semiskilled, and could not qualify for better paying jobs. The local offices' practices for processing applicants followed traditional employment practices and, therefore, reinforced them. Local offices filled most job orders with new applicants as they registered, and referred few applicants from among those with applications on file. Federal and state equal opportunity compliance efforts were inadequate. The Department of Labor was not responsive to Department of Justice recommendations for improving its enforcement activities. The Department of Labor's regional administrators did not emphasize equal opportunity enforcement in providing employment services. The Department of Labor did not require states to use its computerized equal opportunity compliance tool, which presents applicant data in a format designed for equal opportunity analysis. The training applicants need to obtain or improve their skills may be met through Comprehensive Employment and Training Act programs.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Labor should ensure that local office procedures are revised to consider the possible present effects of past employment practices, local office staffs are given equal opportunity awareness training, and equal opportunity concerns are considered when revising the fund allocation formula. The Secretary of Labor should improve equal opportunity enforcement by: (1) giving the headquarters equal opportunity compliance staff control over regional compliance units, (2) requiring states to use the computerized enforcement tool or a similar system, (3) incorporating compliance with equal opportunity requirements in local office program compliance reviews, and (4) developing procedures for local offices to periodically provide equal employment opportunity information on possible employment discrimination by employers.

    Agency Affected:


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Apr 9, 2018

Feb 8, 2018

Feb 6, 2018

Dec 21, 2017

Dec 7, 2017

Nov 20, 2017

Oct 26, 2017

Oct 23, 2017

Jun 22, 2017

May 30, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here