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US Labor Department sues poultry giant Pilgrim’s Pride for hiring discrimination against African American, white, female applicants
DALLAS – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has filed a lawsuit alleging that Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. has systematically discriminated against female, African American and white jobseekers at its Mount Pleasant processing facility.
The world’s second largest chicken producer, the company holds more than $75 million in federal contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies. Executive Order 11246 prohibits federal contractors from discriminating in employment based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin, and requires contractors to ensure equal opportunity in employment.
“The company has won millions in federal contracts, but refuses to comply with anti-discrimination laws that apply to those contractors,” said Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs Director Patricia A. Shiu. “When contractors accept federal funds, they agree to take steps to make sure taxpayer money is never used to discriminate in hiring or employment – something Pilgrim’s Pride has failed to do.”
Filed with the Office of Administrative Law Judges, the department’s complaint asks the court to require Pilgrim’s Pride to hire affected applicants into semi-skilled and unskilled production jobs and to pay them back pay and interest. The department also seeks an order permanently prohibiting the company from violating the Executive Order, and canceling all its federal contracts and debarring it from entering into future federal contracts unless it comes into compliance with the Executive Order and remedies its prior violations.
In its compliance review, OFCCP found that – from July 2005 to July 2007 – Pilgrim’s Pride discriminated against African American and white applicants for semi-skilled jobs, and against female and white applicants for unskilled jobs at the processing facility.
In addition to its findings regarding hiring discrimination, OFCCP also found that the Mount Pleasant facility failed to do the following:
- Keep and preserve required personnel and employment records.
- Properly conduct required analyses of whether its employment practices had an adverse impact on women or minority groups.
- Show that the lifting requirements established for various positions were job-related and consistent with business necessity.
Headquartered in Greeley, Colorado, and the wholly owned indirect subsidiary of Brazilian meat-processing giant JBS S.A., Pilgrim’s Pride has the capacity to process more than 34 million birds per week for a total of more than 7 billion pounds of live chicken annually. It operates in 12 U.S. states as well as in Mexico and Puerto Rico with approximately 35,000 employees.
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. Collectively, these laws make it illegal for contractors and subcontractors doing business with the federal government to discriminate in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. In addition, contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discharging or discriminating against applicants or employees because they inquire about, discuss, or disclose their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations. For more information, visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/.
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Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, United States Department of Labor v. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation. Case No. 2016-OFC-5