- Cerner has agreed to pay $1.86 million in back pay and interest to settle claims it discriminated against Black and Asian job applicants, in a deal with federal regulators made public Tuesday.
- The massive medical software vendor will split the money between 1,870 applicants who sought employment as medical billing account and patient account specialists, system engineers, software interns and technical solution analysts between 2015 and 2019, the Department of Labor said.
- Cerner, which was acquired by Oracle in June, agreed to ensure that its hiring processes would be monitored and fair in compliance with equal opportunity laws, and give job opportunities to affected individuals. Cerner does not admit liability and denies the allegations.
Cerner, one of the largest digital medical records providers in the U.S., allegedly showed systemic bias against qualified Black and Asian applicants for a number of positions.
The DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs said it found evidence of discrimination in a routine compliance review of the vendor, which holds federal contracts with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The applicants involved applied for positions at five facilities in Missouri and Kansas — specifically, the Cerner Oaks Campus and Cerner Innovations Campus in Kansas City, Missouri; and the Cerner Corp. and Cerner Continuous Campus North Tower in Kansas City, Kansas.
OFCCP found that Cerner violated an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on factors including race, religion and sexual orientation. In their review, federal regulators found statistically significant differences in the hiring rates for Black and Asian applicants compared to similarly qualified White applicants, according to the compliance agreement between the DOL and Cerner.
The alleged bias in hiring rates resulted in a notable shortfall of Black and Asian hires for certain Cerner positions between 2015 and 2019.
The roles of medical billing and patient account specialists had a shortfall of 35 Black hires and 5 Asian hires; systems engineer had a shortfall of 20 Black hires and 12 Asian hires; software intern had a shortfall of 10 Asian hires; and technical solutions analyst had a shortfall of 10 Asian hires, regulators said.
Software giant Oracle acquired Cerner for $28.3 billion in June. With the acquisition, Oracle — which has said it plans to leverage Cerner to create a unified national health records database — also inherited a decade-long, $10 billion contract with the VA to design a new health records system linking VA hospitals and clinics.
The program has come under increased fire from regulators and lawmakers for implementation errors, potential patient harm and snowballing cost estimates.