Ultra Foods Sued by EEOC for Sex Discrimination

Retail Grocer Denied Jobs to Class of Women, Federal Agency Charges

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. - A Northern Indiana grocer unlawfully refused to hire a class of women to night shift stocking jobs because of their sex, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today. 

According to the EEOC's lawsuit, SVT, LLC, doing business as Ultra Foods in Merrillville, Ind., favored male employees for its night stocker position because of their sex and rejected qualified females who applied for this position.  

Discrimination in hiring on the basis of sex violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.  The EEOC filed suit after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.  The EEOC asserts that the corporation's actions were intentional and demonstrated a reckless indifference to the applicants' federally protected rights.  

The EEOC filed suit (Case No.  2:13-cv-0245 -RLM-PRC in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division) on July 19.  The agency is seeking back pay, compensatory and punitive damages as well as other relief, including a permanent injunction to prevent the company from engaging in future sex discrimination in hiring.  

"Ordinarily, an applicant's sex should play no lawful role in an employer's hiring decisions, and an employer who disregards federal protections designed to level the playing field for all applicants does so at its own peril," said Laurie A. Young, regional attorney for the EEOC's Indianapolis District Office.    

Eliminating barriers in recruitment and hiring, especially class-based recruitment and hiring practices that discriminate against racial, ethnic and religious groups, older workers, women, and people with disabilities, 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 based on race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, and retaliation.  Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at: www.eeoc.gov.