Poultry Processing Company Fired Employee for Complaining About National Origin Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges
RALEIGH, N.C. - Mountaire Farms, Inc., doing business as Mountaire Farms of North Carolina Corp., unlawfully fired an employee in retaliation for his complaining about national origin discrimination, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleged in a lawsuit filed today. Mountaire Farms is a Delaware-based agricultural food processing company that operates a poultry processing facility in Lumber Bridge, N.C.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, Frantz Morette began working as a translator for a group of Haitian workers at Mountaire Farms' Lumber Bridge facility in December 2010. From early in his employment with the company, Morette complained to his supervisors and the human resources department that the Haitian workers were being treated poorly by Mountaire Farms' supervisors as compared to their non-Haitian coworkers. Morette told company management that supervisors often refused to allow the Haitian workers to take bathroom breaks while allowing non-Haitian workers to do so and refused to provide the Haitian workers with the training necessary for the higher-paying jobs at the facility. Morette also said that the Haitian workers were often harassed by their non-Haitian supervisors and coworkers by having chickens and chicken parts thrown at them.
Sometime around Sept. 1, 2011, Morette notified one of the company's managers that a supervisor was refusing to allow a Haitian worker to take a restroom break while allowing other non-Haitian workers to do so. A few days later, Morette was fired, the EEOC said, in retaliation for his complaints.
Retaliation for complaining about employment discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Southern Division (EEOC v. Mountaire Farms, Inc. d/b/a Mountaire Farms of North Carolina Corp., Civil Action No. 7:13-cv-00182) after first attempting to reach a voluntary settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC seeks back pay, compensatory damages and punitive damages, as well as injunctive relief.
"Employees should be confident that they can make their employers aware of violations of federal anti-discrimination laws without fear of reprisal," said Lynette A. Barnes, regional attorney for the EEOC's Charlotte District Office. "The anti-retaliation provisions of Title VII are essential to the attainment of a workplace free of discrimination."
Eliminating policies and practices that discourage or prohibit individuals from exercising their rights under employment discrimination statutes, or that impede the EEOC's investigative or enforcement efforts, is one of six national priorities identified by the EEOC's Strategic Enforcement Plan.
The EEOC is responsible for enforcing federal laws prohibiting discrimination in employment. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.