Cargill settles discrimination suit for $2.2 million
Cargill Meat Solutions, headquartered in Wichita, Kan., has agreed to settle charges of hiring discrimination based on race and sex with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
Under the agreement, Cargill will pay $2,236,218 in back wages and interest to 2,959 applicants who were rejected for production jobs at facilities in Springdale, Ark.; Fort Morgan, Colo.; and Beardstown, Ill., between 2005 and 2009. The affected workers include: female applicants at Springdale and Fort Morgan, Caucasian and Hispanic applicants at Fort Morgan, and African American and Caucasian applicants at Beardstown.
Cargill Meat Solutions operates a facility in Newnan but has not been named in any of the discrimination charges. “This settlement will benefit thousands of workers who were subjected to unfair discrimination,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. “And it demonstrates the Department of Labor’s commitment to ensuring that everybody has a fair and equal shot at competing for good jobs.”
During a series of scheduled reviews, OFCCP compliance officers found evidence that Cargill’s hiring processes and selection procedures at facilities in Arkansas, Colorado and Illinois violated Executive Order 11246 by discriminating on the bases of sex, race and/or ethnicity. The reviews also uncovered violations of the Executive Order’s record-keeping requirements. T
he Department of Labor filed a lawsuit regarding violations at the Springdale facility in November 2011 and this settlement resolves the issues in that complaint as well as the two other reviews.
“Discrimination should never be used to justify favoring one group of workers over others,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. “I am pleased that Cargill has agreed to put a proactive strategy in place to address this issue through new hiring procedures and in-depth training on combating stereotypes.”
In addition to paying more than $2.2 million in back wages and interest to the affected applicants, Cargill has agreed to extend 354 job offers to the affected workers as positions become available. Additionally, the company has agreed to undertake extensive self-monitoring measures to ensure that all hiring practices fully comply with the law, including record-keeping requirements. Cargill Meat Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Minneapolis-based Cargill Inc., distributes beef, pork and turkey products.
Since 2005, Cargill has held federal contracts worth more than $1.4 billion. In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These three laws require those who do business with the federal government, contractors and subcontractors, to follow the fair and reasonable standard that they not discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran.