EEOC, ConAgra Subsidiary Reach $900K Disability Settlement

May 21, 2003 ( - Gilroy Food and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have reached a settlement of alleged disability discrimination.

>The $993,500 settlement to 39 workers at the ConAgra Foods, Inc subsidiary’s onion and garlic dehydration plan is the largest disability settlement ever for the EEOC in the agricultural industry, an EEOC news release said.  It comes after a federal investigation found that workers were denied hire, in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Those denied employment were former workers at the plant under the previous management who were on leave at the time of ConAgra’s purchase of the facility in 2001.   This included workers on leave for maternity or previous work injury and others who were denied jobs due to a history of previous injury or illness, even though they had been doing the work for years and had no restrictions against returning to work.

In addition to the monetary benefits and job offers, ConAgra also committed to ADA training for its management staff and posting notices about the agreement for a year.  

EEOC San Francisco District Director Susan McDuffie commended ConAgra for reaching the agreement. “By working with EEOC to resolve this matter, ConAgra has clearly shown its commitment to making needed changes to policies and practices that ensure equal employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. I am very pleased by this agreement, which avoids litigation and allows the workers to move on with their lives.”

“This dispute arose over a misunderstanding of re-employment rights of a small group of employees who were on leaves of absence when ConAgra Foods bought the plant,” said Jessica Berg, a ConAgra Foods spokesperson. “We are pleased to have resolved this dispute and believe this agreement is in the best interests of all parties involved.”