Cargill settles U.S. charges of hiring bias, denies discrimination
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[January 23, 2014]
By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) — A unit of Cargill Inc, one of the world's largest
privately held companies, has agreed to pay $2.24 million to nearly
3,000 rejected job applicants to settle U.S. Department of Labor
charges of hiring discrimination based on race and gender.
The Labor Department on Wednesday said the payment by Cargill Meat
Solutions represents back wages and interest, and will go to 2,959
applicants who were turned down for production jobs at three
meat-processing plants between 2005 and 2009.
It said affected workers include female applicants in Springdale,
Arkansas; female, Caucasian and Hispanic applicants in Fort Morgan,
Colorado; and African-American and Caucasian applicants in
Cargill in a statement said the allegations by the Labor
Department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which
reviews companies that do business with the government, were
"unfounded and without merit."
It said it believes it did not discriminate against any job
applicants, but settled to avoid the cost, disruptions and
uncertainty of lengthy litigation.
"The decision to settle was not taken lightly," Senior Vice
President Bill Buckner said in a statement. "We are disappointed
with the way OFCCP uses a mathematical model to allege violations in
the absence of evidence. We believe the agency needs to change the
way it applies the law to ensure that OFCCP is not forcing employers
to violate — by using quotas — the very laws the agency is supposed
to be enforcing."
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As part of the settlement, Cargill agreed to make 354 job offers to
affected workers as positions become available, and improve internal
oversight to ensure its hiring practices comply with the law, the
Labor Department said.
"This settlement will benefit thousands of workers who were
subjected to unfair discrimination," U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas
Perez said in a statement.
Cargill is one of the world's largest food and agricultural
companies, posting a $2.31 billion profit on revenue of $136.7
billion in the year ending May 31, 2013. It employs about 142,000
people in 67 countries, according to its website.
Cargill is based in Minneapolis. Cargill Meat Solutions is based in
Wichita, Kansas, and includes North American beef, pork, turkey,
food service and food distribution businesses.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New
York; editing by Leslie Adler)
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