EEOC Sues Tyson Foods for Retaliation

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

Tyson Foods Refused to Hire Applicant Because of Prior EEOC Charge Against Company, Federal Agency Charges

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Tyson Foods, Inc., a worldwide food company based in Springdale, Arkansas that produces approximately 20% of the beef, pork, and chicken in the United States, violated federal law when it refused to rehire a former employee for a job because she had previously filed an EEOC discrimination charge against the company, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed yesterday.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, in August 2019, the charging party applied for the third time for an open position at Tyson’s Eufaula, Alabama facility. She had previously filed a charge of pregnancy discrimination against the company in 2016, which was resolved in 2018.

On August 29, 2019, she attended a Tyson job fair and was interviewed and offered employment in Tyson’s x-ray department. After receiving the offer, the applicant disclosed to the interviewer that she had previously worked for the company. The interviewer reviewed her records to confirm her eligibility for rehire. According to the EEOC’s suit, Tyson decided not to hire the charging party because of her previous EEOC charge.

“Federal law prohibits employers from retaliating against job applicants or employees for asserting their right to be free from employment discrimination,” said Bradley Anderson, director of the EEOC’s Birmingham district. “The EEOC remains committed to protect the rights of workers who believe they have been discriminated against to file an EEOC charge.”

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit (EEOC v. Tyson Foods, Inc., Case No. 2:21-cv-629-MHT-JTA) in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama after the EEOC’s Birmingham District Office completed an investigation and first attempted to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process. The EEOC is seeking back pay, compensatory damages, and punitive damages for the applicant, and injunctive relief to prevent such unlawful conduct in the future.

“Title VII protects those who file EEOC charges,” said Marsha Rucker, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Birmingham district. “Protecting the victims’ right to seek redress for discrimination in the workplace by filing an EEOC charge is an important part of the laws EEOC enforces.”

The EEOC’s Birmingham District consists of Alabama, Mississippi (except 17 northern counties), and the Florida Panhandle.

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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