Hillshire Brands has agreed to pay $330,000 in back wages as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor over claims of hiring discrimination against 2,474 men in the company’s Sara Lee division.
The company will also make offers to 73 of those rejected applicants while paying interest and benefits to the entire class, as part of the settlement. The hiring discrepancy took place in Sara Lee’s Florence, Ala. plant, which is slated for closure in December resulting in the loss of 1,100 jobs.
Hillshire, which is now part of Tyson Foods, also said it will review and revise its selection process and provide better training to its hiring managers to eliminate practices that result in gender stereotyping.
This settlement concludes a 20-month investigation from 2009 through 2010 where 98% of the applicants selected for biscuit assembler positions were women and 99% of dumper/stacker positions available went to men. The settlement notes that because there were far fewer stacker jobs, total employment was heavily skewed toward women.
"There's nothing particularly feminine about assembling a breakfast sandwich," said Patricia Shiu, director of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance. "Stereotypes about 'women's work' and 'men's work' become harmful when they stand between qualified workers and good job opportunities."
This hiring discrepancy occurred prior to Hillshire’s purchase of Sara Lee in 2012. Now Sara Lee and Hillshire Brands operate under Tyson Foods ownership.