Tyson Foods, Inc. will pay US$1.6 million to settle discrimination allegations made by the US Department of Labor (DOL). The allegations of systematic hiring discrimination arose at six of Tyson’s locations in Texas, Arkansas and New Mexico after an investigation by DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
OFCCP alleged that Tyson violated Executive Order 11246 by discriminating on the bases of sex, race and/or ethnicity. The company disagrees with the allegations but has chosen to settle these cases to avoid the cost of going to trial.
While not admitting liability, Tyson agreed to pay US$1.6 million in back wages, interest and benefits to 5,716 applicants rejected for laborer jobs, according to a DOL press release. The rejections occurred from 2007 to 2010 at facilities in Amarillo (beef), Houston (deli meats) and Sherman (case-ready beef/pork), Texas; Russellville (chicken) and Rogers (chicken), Arkansas; and Santa Teresa, New Mexico (closed – prepared foods).
The company has also agreed to extend job offers to 474 of the affected workers as positions become available, and to revise its hiring and training practices.
“Tyson has agreed to fully cooperate to remedy past violations and ensure its selection practices at these facilities are in full compliance with the law,” said OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu in a press release. “Together, we can achieve the common goal of equal employment opportunities for all employees and applicants."
Hiring discrimination allegations based on statistics
The OFCCP’s claims are based on a statistical review of job applications from six to nine years ago, not on any complaints from job applicants, according to a press release from Tyson. Tyson Foods contends there were legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for rejecting applicants who were not hired. The company also reports that through its normal hiring practices it has already hired 60 percent of the people from the affected gender and ethnic groups it is required to employ as part of the resolution with the OFCCP.
“We’re disappointed by the OFCCP’s claims, since we work hard to comply with all hiring laws and to treat all job applicants fairly,” said Lola Hithon, vice president of employment compliance for Tyson Foods in a press release.