Bumpus Harley-Davidson sues Tennessee county over minority hiring policy

Publish Date: 
Feb 8, 2012

Bumpus Harley-Davidson has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Shelby County, Tenn.’s equal opportunity compliance policy.

The government requires companies that want to win Shelby County contracts to go through a certification process in which they disclose the racial and ethnic makeup of their work forces. Companies that employ 15 or more workers must have hired a certain percentage of minorities, regardless of the size of the contract they're seeking, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

The Bumpus lawsuit alleges that the sheriff's office had selected Bumpus for a contract to provide motorcycles, but members of the Shelby County Commission criticized the process because they believed Bumpus did not have enough African-American employees. The contract went to another company, and Bumpus claims they also lost sales of cold-weather riding gear to the county.

The proportion of minority workers must be at least half of the proportion of minorities in the business’ metropolitan statistical area.

Minorities make up 42.9 percent of the population in the multi-county Memphis metropolitan statistical area, according to county statistics, so companies must show that at least 21.45 percent of their workers are minorities. Companies that the county disqualifies may appeal the decision.

Bumpus is not the first business to challenge the rule, and former county attorney Brian Kuhn criticized the policy in a December 2009 legal opinion.

County Commissioner Mike Ritz is leading a committee to review the policy, which he says will try to balance business realities, the law and county commissioners’ sentiments.

Posted by Holly Wagner

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