On November 10, 2008, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) announced that it had entered a consent decree for $1,875,000 to resolve a religious class action discrimination lawsuit against the University of Phoenix, Inc. and its parent corporation. In its lawsuit, the EEOC charged that the University of Phoenix engaged in a widespread practice of discriminating against non-Mormon employees who worked as enrollment counselors in the University’s Online Division. Enrollment counselors are responsible for recruiting students and are evaluated based on the number of students they recruit. (See EEOC v. University of Phoenix, Inc., and Apollo Group, Inc. (CV 06-2303-PHX-ROS).
According to the EEOC, witness testimony revealed that managers in the Online Enrollment Department discriminated against non-Mormon employees and favored Mormon employees in several ways, including: (1) providing the Mormon employees better leads on potential students; (2) disciplining non-Mormon employees for conduct for which Mormon employees were not disciplined; (3) promoting lesser-qualified or unqualified Mormon enrollment counselors to management positions while repeatedly denying such promotions to non-Mormon enrollment counselors; and (4) denying tuition waivers to non-Mormon employees.
The consent decree provides monetary relief for 52 individuals. The consent decree also contains several provisions designed to stop further religious discrimination and prevent it from recurring, including (1) the dissemination of a Zero Tolerance Policy, (2) training for managers and non-managers, (3) including in manager evaluations an assessment of their compliance with equal employment opportunity laws; and (4) hiring a diversity officer and the staff necessary to monitor compliance with the terms of the consent decree.