US Labor Department files second lawsuit alleging
hiring discrimination at Pilgrim’s Pride chicken plants
Complaint seeks back wages and job offers from Pilgrim’s Pride Company
ATLANTA — One of the world’s largest chicken processors systematically discriminated against qualified African-American applicants seeking entry-level jobs as laborers and operatives at its chicken plant in Marshville, North Carolina, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs alleges in a lawsuit filed against Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation.
“Discrimination will not be tolerated by employers who profit from government contracts,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. “OFCCP will use every action available by law, including canceling Pilgrim’s federal contracts if necessary, to ensure workers are treated fairly.”
The complaint results from an OFCCP investigation into the company’s selection procedures. This is the second lawsuit filed by OFCCP against the company in less than 30 days. The first complaint, filed on Sept. 15, 2015, alleges that Pilgrim’s Pride systematically discriminated against qualified African-American, Caucasian, and female applicants for entry-level laborer and operative positions at its chicken plant in Athens, Alabama. Both complaints were filed with the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges and seek complete make-whole relief, including instatement of qualified black applicants at the chicken processing facility, payment of lost wages, interest, front wages, and other fringe benefits, including but not limited to retroactive seniority.
OFCCP reviewed the two facilities for compliance with Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of race and national origin. The agency found that in 2007 and 2008, the Marshville facility’s selection criteria were inconsistently applied, unfairly discriminating against African-American applicants. OFCCP also found that Pilgrim’s Pride failed to maintain records and to perform in-depth analyses of its employment processes to determine if impediments to equal employment opportunity existed, as required by Pilgrim’s federal contracts and OFCCP regulations. The Athens facility’s selection criteria were also applied inconsistently. As a result, some African-American, Caucasian, and female applicants were rejected despite having education and experience levels comparable to male and Hispanic applicants. The Athens plant is no longer in operation.
Based in Greeley, Colorado, Pilgrim’s Pride is the largest chicken producer in the U.S. The Brazilian food giant JBS S.A. owns 75 percent of Pilgrim’s Pride’s outstanding common stock.
From 2007 to 2011, Pilgrim’s Pride received more than $36 million in federal contracts as a provider of poultry to agencies such as the departments of Defense and Agriculture.
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. As amended, these three laws require that contractors and subcontractors doing business with the federal government not discriminate in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. For more information, please call OFCCP’s toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251 or visit http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/.
OFCCP News Release: [10/07/2015]
Contact Name: Michael D’Aquino or Lindsay Williams
Phone Number: (678) 237-0630
Email: D’Aquino.Michael@dol.gov or firstname.lastname@example.org
Release Number: 15-1879-ATL