DoL Hits Tyson with Hiring Discrimination Claims

September 17, 2010 ( – The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) has accused Tyson Fresh Meats of systematically rejecting female job applicants at its plant in Joslin, Illinois.

A DoL news release said more than 750 women are owed back wages and more than 100 women should be given the option of working for the company as a result of the conduct alleged in an administrative complaint filed by the agency’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP). The OFCCP monitors compliance by federal contractors with federal labor laws.

The OFCCP complaint requests that all of Tyson’s federal contracts be canceled; it be debarred from future government contracts until it has remedied the violations; and it provide complete relief, including lost wages, interest and other benefits of employment, to affected individuals.

“The Labor Department is firmly committed to ensuring that federal contractors give all individuals a fair and equal chance at employment,” said Patricia A. Shiu, director of the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, in the news release. “Taxpayer dollars must never be used to discriminate. In our efforts to uncover workplace discrimination, OFCCP will utilize a host of remedies, including debarment, to protect workers, promote diversity and enforce the law.”

According to the news release, the latest action follows recent OFCCP litigation involving another Tyson Foods Inc. subsidiary, TNT Crust, located in Green Bay, Wisconsin. In that case, a Department of Labor administrative law judge found that TNT Crust systematically discriminated against Latino applicants in its entry-level position hiring.

In an interview with the Associated Press, an executive with Springdale, Arkansas.-based Tyson countered that the Labor Department’s latest charges are based on an audit of job application forms, not complaints by anyone who came to the company looking for work.

“We’re disappointed the Department of Labor has taken this course of action,” said Ken Kimbro, Tyson’s senior vice president and chief human resources officer, insisting that “contrary to the impression left by the government’s allegation” the company demands a discrimination-free workplace.