US food major General Mills is being sued by eight Black employees over practices at a plant in Georgia which they describe as racist.

Specialist legal news service Law360 and news agency Reuters reported the workers claim the plant at Covington, near Atlanta, was run by white supremacists known as the Good Ole Boys.

A class action claim is seeking compensatory and punitive damages for hundreds of Black employees in the last four years who were alleged to have suffered adverse employment actions at the plant which makes cereal and trail mix.

The case – Davis et al v. General Mills Operations –  was lodged with the US District Court, Northern District of Georgia, on Sunday (2 June).

The plaintiffs said, General Mills, the company behind brands such as Betty Crocker cake mixes and Cheerios breakfast cereal, oversaw a plant that favoured white people for promotions over more qualified Blacks staff, who were subjected to tougher performance standards.

One plaintiff, Keith McClinton, said after “KKK” – standing for white supremicist organisation Ku Klux Klan – was scrawled on his lunchbox in 2006 he was forced to give a handwriting sample to show he did not do it himself.

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Reports said the legal action also cited a mural displayed from 2005 to 2021 that echoed a memorial for Confederate leaders on Georgia’s Stone Mountain, but with the Cocoa Puffs cuckoo bird portraying Jefferson Davis and the Honey Nut Cheerios bee portraying Stonewall Jackson.

Just Food contacted General Mills seeking a response to the claims made in the legal case.

In a statement, the company said: “We do not comment on pending litigation. General Mills has a long-standing and ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, and we do not tolerate discrimination of any kind.”