EEOC Hits Tyson Foods with Racial Discrimination Charges

August 15, 2005 ( - Tyson Foods has been hit with a federal lawsuit over charges that a "whites only" sign was posted on a bathroom at its Ashland, Alabama facility and that two African American employees who complained about it were retaliated against.

The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed in US District Court for the Northern District of Alabama that Tyson violated federal law by maintaining a locked bathroom facility on which “Whites Only” or “Out of Order” signs were posted and by only providing white employees with the necessary keys.

When two black workers complained of the segregated facility, management subjected them to adverse employment actions, including suspensions and disciplinary write-ups, according to the lawsuit.

“While this country has made great strides in addressing issues of racism, unfortunately there are still people who have not yet gotten the message that segregation in the workplace will not be tolerated,” said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, District Director of the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office, in an EEOC news release about the lawsuit. “ The EEOC exists to make certain that the promise of equal opportunity in employment extends not only to access to jobs but to equal treatment on those jobs.”

In a statement posted to its Web site, Tyson officials denied wrongdoing. “We’re surprised and disappointed by this legal action and firmly believe the charges are without merit,” the company asserted.