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Black Workers Accuse Chicago Area Temp Agency Of Favoring Hispanics

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Chicago-area staffing company has been slapped with a lawsuit accusing the temp agency of racial discrimination.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Chicago, claimed Deerfield-based MVP Staffing denied jobs to African-American applicants.

A group of five African Americans who applied for temporary jobs with MVP filed the lawsuit against MVP and nine other companies, alleging MVP and its client firms favored Hispanic workers over African Americans.

They claimed much of the race-based discrimination originated in MVP's offices in Cicero. The plaintiffs have alleged MVP used a system of code words to cover up the discrimination scheme -- calling Latinos "feos," or "ugly ones," and calling blacks "guapos," or "handsome ones," reportedly because client companies believed African Americans didn't want to get their hands dirty.

According to the suit, some of the client firms specifically requested only non-African-American temporary workers be hired. The plaintiffs have claimed MVP accommodated that request by performing criminal background checks only on African-American applicants and denying applications from black workers.

The lawsuit also has alleged MVP advertised job openings exclusively in Spanish-language publications, and offered free bus rides to the agency only from Hispanic neighborhoods.

According to the lawsuit, the companies wanted to hire Hispanic workers because the applicants are often undocumented immigrants, and therefore less likely to complain about low wages or being injured on the job.

A person answering the phone at MVP's headquarters in Deerfield said the company has no statement about the lawsuit. MVP operates staffing offices in nearly 40 states.

The lawsuit seeks class action status on behalf of any qualified African-Americans who applied for jobs through the MVP office in Cicero since Dec. 6, 2012, but were repeatedly rejected jobs at one of the nine client firms.

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