Feds file discrimination suit against chicken supplier Pilgrim's Pride

Feds file discrimination suit against chicken supplier Pilgrim's Pride
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The Department of Labor (DOL) is accusing America’s largest chicken supplier of systematically discriminating against African-American job applicants in a lawsuit filed against the company on Wednesday.

In it’s suit, the agency’s second in the last 30 days, the DOL said Pilgrim's Pride turned down qualified black workers for entry-level jobs as laborers and operatives at its chicken plant in Marshville, N.C.

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“Discrimination will not be tolerated by employers who profit from government contracts,” the agency’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) Director Patricia A. Shiu said in a statement. “OFCCP will use every action available by law, including canceling Pilgrim’s federal contracts if necessary, to ensure workers are treated fairly.”

From 2007 to 2011, the Labor Department said Pilgrim’s Pride received more than $36 million in federal contracts as a provider of poultry to agencies such as the Defense and Agriculture departments.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Executive Order prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of race and national origin.

This is OFCCP’s second lawsuit following an investigation into the Colorado-headquartered company’s hiring procedures. The first, filed on Sept. 15, alleges Pilgrim's Pride discriminated against black, white and female applicants for entry-level laborer and operations positions at its chicken plant in Athens, Ala.

In both lawsuits, the Labor Department is asking the court to force the company to hire the employees who allegedly faced discrimination and pay them lost wages, interest and other benefits.