Company Favored Mexican Workers Over American Workers and Engaged in Race Discrimination, Federal Agency Charges
ATLANTA - J&R Baker Farms LLC and J&R Baker Farms Partnership subjected American workers, most of whom were African American, to discrimination based on national origin and race at their Colquitt County location, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit filed recently.
According to the EEOC's lawsuit, the employer favored foreign born workers or workers they believed to be foreign born, while engaging in a pattern or practice of discrimination against white American and African American workers. The agency alleges that all American workers were discriminatorily discharged, subjected to different terms and conditions of employment, and provided fewer work opportunities, based on their national origin and/or race. Regarding the disparate terms and conditions, the agency alleges that work start times were habitually delayed for white American and African American workers, that they were sent home early while foreign workers continued to work, and that they were subjected to production standards not imposed on foreign born workers. These practices led to all American workers receiving less pay than their foreign born counterparts.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of national origin or race. The EEOC filed suit (Civil Action No., 7:14-cv-00136-HL) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking damages for 25 persons who filed charges with the agency and for other white American and African American workers harmed by the practices. The agency is also seeking injunctive relief designed to stop the discrimination and prevent it from recurring in the future.
Robert Dawkins, regional attorney for EEOC's Atlanta District Office, said, "The agency is equally committed to protecting American workers from arbitrary firings and disparate treatment due to national origin as it is committed to protecting the rights of workers of any other national origin. The fact that all Americans, irrespective of race, were treated equally badly is not an excuse for this type of discrimination."
"This is not the first time the EEOC has seen this kind of discrimination against American workers due to negative stereotypes of their work ethic and likelihood to complain about injustice," said Bernice Williams-Kimbrough, district director for the EEOC's Atlanta office. "Because the practice is not isolated, the Commission will remain vigilant about protecting everyone's rights."
The EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about the EEOC is available on its web site at www.eeoc.gov.