Maxwell House Division of Kraft Accused of Gender Bias

October 28, 2010 ( – The Maxwell House Coffee Division of Kraft Foods Global is being sued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for inequitably disciplining, then firing, a female employee.

An EEOC news release said the lawsuit charges that Maxwell House violated federal law when it subjected a female employee at its Jacksonville, Florida, coffee plant to discriminatory terms and conditions and discipline and terminated her on the basis of her sex. Francena Smith was disciplined more harshly that her male co-workers when they were involved in incidents where coffee was damaged, and was then fired because of her gender.  

“When management allows a female employee to be disciplined more harshly than similarly situated male employees for making the exact same mistakes, it is not living up to its obligation under federal law to protect employees from discrimination on the basis of sex.” said EEOC Acting District Director Delner Franklin-Thomas, in the announcement.  

Although an arbitrator ordered Smith reinstated in March 2010, she did not receive any monetary damages. The agency said the arbitrator’s decision does not affect its ability to bring its lawsuit.