US Labor Department files complaint against Cargill Meat Solutions for discrimination at Springdale, Ark., facility

Suit seeks back wages and job offers for more than 4,000 affected job applicants, cancellation of federal contracts

SPRINGDALE, Ark. — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal  Contract Compliance Programs has filed an administrative complaint against federal  contractor Cargill Meat Solutions, alleging that the company systematically  discriminated against 4,069 qualified female, white, black, Hispanic and Native  American applicants who sought entry-level production jobs at its Springdale  facility.

The complaint was filed with  the department’s Office of Administrative Law Judges after OFCCP was unable to  secure a fair resolution from Cargill Meat Solutions to pay back wages and  interest to the rejected job applicants and extend job offers to at least 167  of the affected workers. OFCCP is seeking cancellation of Cargill Meat  Solutions’ existing government contracts and debarment from entering into  future contracts until the company resolves all violations and corrects its  discriminatory employment practices.

“This  is an unfortunate case in which thousands of qualified workers were denied the  opportunity to compete fairly for jobs in a tough economy,” said OFCCP Director  Patricia A. Shiu. “Cargill has discriminated against vulnerable workers. OFCCP  is prepared to use every tool at our disposal, including canceling a company’s  federal contracts when necessary, to achieve the goal of equal opportunity for  workers.”

OFCCP discovered the  company’s discriminatory practices during a scheduled review to determine its  compliance with Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from  discriminating on the basis of race, national origin or sex when making hiring  decisions. The investigation found that the company’s selection criteria were  subjectively and inconsistently applied. As a result, women were less likely to  be employed in entry-level production jobs, and Asian and Pacific Islander job  seekers were unfairly favored over other racial groups.

Cargill Meat Solutions, a  wholly-owned subsidiary of Minneapolis, Minn.-based Cargill Inc., currently  holds contracts totaling at least $60 million* with the U.S. Department of Defense. The Springdale facility processes turkeys  for sale under the brand names Honeysuckle White and Riverside.

OFCCP enforces Executive  Order 11246, the Vietnam Era Veterans’  Readjustment Assistance Act and Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  As amended, these three laws require those who do business with the federal  government, both contractors and subcontractors, to follow 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 or visit its website at http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/.

OFCCP v. Cargill Meat  Solutions, case number: 2012-OFC-00001

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