Tyson Foods will pay $1.6 million to more than 5,700 job applicants in a hiring discrimination case between 2007 and 2010 at six of its plants in Rogers, Russellville, Ark., as well as Amarillo, Houston and Sherman, Texas and Santa Theresa, N.M., a plant now closed.
The Springdale-based meat giant admitted to no liability in this settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor on behalf of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
The claims of hiring discrimination involve race, sex or ethnicity bias. In addition to the cash settlement, Tyson has agreed to extend job offers to 474 of the affected workers as positions become available. The company will also revise its hiring and training practices as part of the settlement terms.
“We’re disappointed by the OFCCP’s claims, since we work hard to comply with all hiring laws and to treat all job applicants fairly,” said Lola Hithon, vice president of employment compliance for Tyson Foods.
Tyson also said the OFCCP’s claims are based on a statistical review of job applications from six to nine years ago, not on any complaints from job applicants. Tyson Foods contends there were legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for rejecting applicants who were not hired. The company also reports that through its normal hiring practices it has already hired 60% of the people from the affected gender and ethnic groups it is required to employ as part of the resolution with the OFCCP.
In addition, over the past two years, the company said it instituted a new electronic hiring system, which requires applicants to apply online. Tyson claims the system is more efficient and improves the company’s ability to document and monitor the application process.
“Federal contractors are obligated to give every applicant a fair and equal shot at competing for good jobs,” said OFCCP Director Patricia Shiu. “Tyson has agreed to fully cooperate to remedy past violations and ensure its selection practices at these facilities are in full compliance with the law. Together, we can achieve the common goal of equal employment opportunities for all employees and applicants.”
Tyson Foods supplies retail and food service to customers throughout the U.S. and approximately 130 countries. With more than $15 million in federal contracts with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the company supplies the federal government with meat products, including chicken, beef and pork.