Meatpacker Sued for Hiring Bias

April 1, 2002 ( - The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is suing a Chicago meatpacking company for allegedly discriminating in its hiring of African-American job candidates.

The EEOC suit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois last Thursday, also claims that Carl Buddig & Co segregated women into lower paying jobs.  Buddig employs more than 700 people, with operations on the South Side of Chicago and in South Holland and Homewood, Illinois, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

In a prepared statement, Buddig said it had not seen the lawsuit but that the company values diversity and has never received any complaints about its hiring practices.

Job ‘Less’

African-Americans made up a major segment of the company’s labor market and applied for jobs in large numbers, according to an EEOC investigation. However, the EEOC alleges that African-Americans consistently made up less than 1% of Buddig’s workforce.

The complaint cites a 12-month period ended in November 1998, where Buddig allegedly received job applications from more than 100 African-Americans – and eventually hired 50 people for the positions – but not one African-American.  Instead, Buddig reportedly hired white employees who knew people already working at the firm.

It’s unreasonable that none of the 100 applicants was hired, said John Hendrickson, the EEOC’s regional attorney in Chicago. ‘We’re not talking about being a rocket scientist,’ he said, according to the Crain’s report. ‘We are talking about being hired for a meatpacking plant.’

Pay ‘Grade’

In addition, the EEOC alleges that Buddig didn’t treat female employees equally. For example, line packer jobs were reserved for females, while utility worker positions were given to men. While the two jobs initially paid the same salary, within six months the men began making more than the women, the EEOC said, according to the report.

The EEOC first notified Buddig of the discrimination in August 2000 and encouraged the company to change its hiring practices.  Those negotiations broke off in April 2001, according to the report – and as a result the agency filed suit.