Chicago Meat Authority to Pay $1.1 Million to Settle EEOC Racial Discrimination and Retaliation Suit

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
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U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Meat Processing Company Harassed Black Employees, Rejected Them for Hire, and Fired a Black Employee for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged

CHICAGO – Chicago Meat Authority, a Chicago meat processing plant, will pay $1.1 million and furnish other relief to settle a race discrimination case brought by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

The EEOC's lawsuit charged that Chicago Meat Authority discriminated against Black applicants in hiring, subjected African American employees who were in the workforce to racial harassment, and fired a Black employee because of his race and in retaliation for complaining about racial harassment.

The EEOC’s investigation revealed that the company favored hiring Hispanic employees over African American employees, even though the company is located in a largely Black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. The investigation further revealed that African American employees who were hired were subjected to repeated racial slurs by both co-workers and managers.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC brought its lawsuit, EEOC v. Chicago Meat Authority, N.D. Illinois, No. 18-cv-01357, on Feb. 22, 2018 after the agency first attempted to reach a pre-litigation conciliation with the company.

The consent decree settling the suit was entered this morning by Judge John Kness of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. In addition to providing $1.1 million in monetary relief to the discrimination victims, the decree requires significant injunctive relief. The decree prohibits the company from discriminating in the future; mandates the hiring of rejected applicants who still want jobs at the company; requires the company to make good faith efforts to reach hiring goals for Black employees; and mandates implementation of anti-harassment training and policies.

“Stopping race discrimination in hiring is one of the fundamental objectives the EEOC was created to address more than 50 years ago,” said EEOC Chicago Regional Attorney Gregory Gochanour. “Unfortunately, there is a continuing need for law enforcement work in this area. The consent decree in Chicago Meat Authority makes a very important contribution to that work by providing job opportunities to qualified applicants who were denied them in the past, and requiring that the company take steps to reform its hiring practices in the future.”

Julianne Bowman, director of the EEOC’s Chicago District Office, said, “We are pleased that we were able to resolve this case with Chicago Meat Authority. The consent decree will ensure that the federal laws against discrimination and harassment are followed, that all future applicants, regardless of their race, will be given the consideration that they deserve, and that racial harassment will not be tolerated.”

The EEOC’s Chicago District Office is responsible for processing charges of discrimination, administrative enforcement and the conduct of agency litigation in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and North and South Dakota, with Area Offices in Milwaukee and Minneapolis.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at www.eeoc.gov.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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