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Tyson Fresh Meats to pay $2.25 million to settle sex discrimination cases with U.S. Labor Department

September 20, 2011

Online Staff Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) announced Sept. 20 that Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. has entered into two consent decrees to settle allegations of sex discrimination.

The Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based company will pay a total of $2.25 million in back wages, interest and benefits to more than 1,650 qualified female job applicants who were rejected for employment at facilities in Joslin, Ill.; West Point, Neb.; and Waterloo and Denison, Iowa.

Tyson Fresh Meats is a subsidiary of Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods Inc., a federal contractor and one of the world’s largest processors of beef and pork.

Companies that profit from federal contracts must not discriminate in employment decisions,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Today’s settlement, one of the largest in OFCCP’s history, means that women who were unfairly denied job opportunities will be compensated.”

During scheduled compliance reviews of the four facilities, OFCCP determined that Tyson Fresh Meats had violated Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sex. Under the terms of the decrees, the $2.25 million settlement will be divided among the rejected female job applicants. Tyson also has agreed to offer jobs to at least 220 of the affected women as positions become available in Joslin, Waterloo and Denison. The West Point plant closed in 2006. Finally, Tyson will undertake extensive self-monitoring and corrective measures to ensure that its employment practices fully comply with the law.

These consent decrees resolve the latest lawsuits in a string of cases brought by OFCCP against subsidiaries of Tyson Foods Inc. In 2008, a Labor Department administrative law judge found that TNT Crust in Green Bay, Wis., systematically had discriminated against Latino applicants in its entry-level position hiring. Last year, OFCCP settled a case against Tyson Refrigerated Processed Meats after finding evidence that the company had discriminated against 157 African-American and 375 Caucasian job applicants at the company’s bacon processing plant in Vernon, Texas.

A year after filing suit, the Labor Department has made good on a promise to those job seekers who were denied the opportunity to work simply because they are women,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. “We will remain vigilant, particularly with a serial offender like Tyson, to protect the rights of workers who can and should expect basic fairness from a company that profits mightily from doing business with the federal government.”

Tyson Foods Inc. has received federal contracts totaling more than $200 million in each of the past three years and recently was awarded another $8 million contract to provide beef and pork products for resale at two commissary stores in Guam. The company is a major supplier for the U.S. Departments of Defense and Agriculture, and is one of the largest employers in Joslin, Waterloo and Denison.

In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP’s legal authority exists under Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. As amended, these three laws hold those who do business with the federal government, both contractors and subcontractors, to 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. For general information, call OFCCP’s toll-free helpline at 800-397-6251. Additional information is at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp.

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