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Tyson responds to OFCCP lawsuit over gender discrimination in hiring

An administrative complaint filed by the OFCCP against Tyson Fresh Meats, alleging that the company utilized a hiring process and selection procedures that discriminated against women seeking entry-level positions at the company’s plant in Joslin, Illinois, “is really about documentation, not discrimination,” according to Ken Kimbro, senior vice president and chief human resources officer of the employer’s parent company, Tyson Foods, Inc. In a statement issued by Tyson Foods, Inc in response to the OFCCP’s announcement of the administrative complaint, Kimbro asserted that “[t]he OFCCP’s charges are solely based on an audit of job application forms at the plant, not on complaints by anyone who came to us seeking a job. We believe there were legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons certain applicants were not hired.”

The allegations result from an OFCCP compliance audit; according to the agency, more than 750 women are owed back wages and more than 100 women should be given the option of working for the company. In it’s complaint, the OFCCP requests that all of Tyson’s federal contracts be canceled; it be debarred from future government contracts until it has remedied the violations; and it provide complete relief, including lost wages, interest and other benefits of employment, to affected individuals.

“Since the OFCCP’s audit was conducted in 2003 and 2004, Tyson has since put procedures in place to ensure that it retains documentation to support its selection decisions,“ Kimbo stated. “We also routinely audit our practices to ensure there are not disparities against female or minority job applicants.”

According to Kimbo, “[d]uring the time period covered by the OFCCP review, minorities represented 66% of the workforce at the Joslin plant while women represented 28%.”

“We’re disappointed the Department of Labor has taken this course of action. Contrary to the impression left by the government’s allegation, it is our policy to provide a work environment free from unlawful discrimination, “ Kimbro added. “We have a history of working cooperatively with the OFCCP and intend to continue that relationship. Tyson has a very diverse workforce and strict policies prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. We remain committed to treating all job applicants fairly. We also communicate our position against discrimination through our Core Values and our Team Member Bill of Rights.”