US: Cargill settles discrimination claims with $2.2m payout

By Hannah Abdulla | 23 January 2014

Cargill has paid a $2.2m settlement fee in a discrimination claim

Cargill has paid a $2.2m settlement fee in a discrimination claim

Cargill has agreed a $2.2m settlement after facing allegations it discriminated against the colour, race and gender of potential job applicants.

In 2011, the US Department of Labor filed a complaint against Cargill alleging the company had discriminated against white, black, Hispanic, Native American and female job applicants at a facility in Springdale in Arkansas. The allegation was based on three years of data starting in 2005. It has since emerged that the claims were in fact against three of Cargill's sites in the US.

At the time, Cargill issued a statement that said 84% of its employee population was a minority and 36% of its plant employees women. It said the Department's claims were "unfounded and without merit."

However, the meat company has announced it will pay $2.2m into a settlement fund, claiming it wants to "avoid the cost, business interruptions and uncertainty created by lengthy litigation".

Cargill senior vice president Bill Buckner said: ""The decision to settle was not taken lightly, because we work hard every day to ensure compliance with all hiring laws, and we have an unwavering commitment to diversity and equal employment opportunity. "The plants involved in the bundled settlement include Fort Morgan, Colorado, Springdale, Arkansas; and Beardstown, Illinois. They have diverse employee populations, representing dozens of nationalities. It's a fact we take great pride in, especially because these communities are thriving with economic prosperity that results from the diverse Cargill employee population."

Buckner continued: "We are disappointed with the way the [Department of Labor agency] Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs uses a mathematical model to allege violations in the absence of evidence. We believe the agency needs to change the way it applies the law to ensure that OFCCP is not forcing employers to violate - by using quotas - the very laws the agency is supposed to be enforcing. We will continue to hire the best candidates available from those who apply for positions at our plants. People make Cargill the great organisation it is, and we believe we have the best."

Show the press release

WICHITA, Kan. – January 8, 2014 – Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation today announced it has settled hiring discrimination allegations made by the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) involving three of the company’s U.S. meat processing plants. The company believes it did not discriminate against any applicant and views the agency’s allegations as being unfounded and without merit. After carefully weighing all options, Cargill chose to avoid the cost, business interruptions and uncertainty created by lengthy litigation, and will pay $2.2 million into a settlement fund.

“The decision to settle was not taken lightly, because we work hard every day to ensure compliance with all hiring laws, and we have an unwavering commitment to diversity and equal employment opportunity,” said Cargill Senior Vice President Bill Buckner. “The plants involved in the bundled settlement include Fort Morgan, Colo. (beef); Springdale, Ark. (turkey); and Beardstown, Ill. (pork). They have diverse employee populations, representing dozens of nationalities. It’s a fact we take great pride in, especially because these communities are thriving with economic prosperity that results from the diverse Cargill employee population.”

Buckner continued, “We are disappointed with the way OFCCP uses a mathematical model to allege violations in the absence of evidence. We believe the agency needs to change the way it applies the law to ensure that OFCCP is not forcing employers to violate – by using quotas – the very laws the agency is supposed to be enforcing. We will continue to hire the best candidates available from those who apply for positions at our plants. People make Cargill the great organization it is, and we believe we have the best.”

OFCCP audits companies that conduct business with the U.S. government. 

Original source: Cargill

Sectors: Meat & poultry

Companies: Cargill

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