Helados La Tapatia to Pay $200,000 to Settle Suit with EEOC for Hispanic-Preference Hiring

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

Non-Hispanic Applicants Turned Away From Entry-Level Positions, Federal Agency Charges

FRESNO, Calif. – Helados La Tapatia, Inc. will pay $200,000 and furnish comprehensive injunctive relief to settle a race and national origin discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency announced today.

According to the EEOC’s lawsuit, the Fresno-based ice cream company favored Hispanic job applicants over others, including black, white and Asian applicants, for such entry-level positions as warehouse worker and route sales driver. The EEOC further contends that Helados not only failed to hire, but also discouraged and deterred non-Hispanic applicants from applying for positions. Finally, the EEOC alleged that Helados fired its sole non-Hispanic driver in Fresno one week after he was hired because of his race and national origin.

Such alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC filed suit against the company in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California (EEOC v. Helados La Tapatia, Inc., et al., Case No. 1:20-cv-00722-DAD-HBK) after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its conciliation process.

In addition to the monetary relief, Helados has agreed to injunctive remedies including hiring an external equal employment opportunity consultant; ensuring an open hiring process regardless of race and national origin; implementing a recruitment plan that includes hiring goals to address past discriminatory practices; training for employees and managers, and reporting requirements. The company has also agreed to maintain a centralized tracking system for all complaints of discrimination and the application and hiring of personnel. The court will maintain jurisdiction over the case during the decree's three-and-a-half-year term.

“In today’s society, people should not have to worry that they will be turned down for a position because of their race or national origin,” said Anna Park, regional attorney for the EEOC’s Los Angeles district office, whose jurisdiction includes Fresno County. “It is imperative that employers conduct self-audits to make sure their hiring practices ensure equal opportunity for all applicants.”

Melissa Barrios, director of the Fresno local office, added, “An employer should never take into account a person’s race or national origin when making employment-based decisions such as hiring. Where an employer has discriminated based on race or national origin, a recruitment plan may be appropriate injunctive relief. Helados has agreed to make changes that will benefit its workforce, and we encourage all employers to review their hiring practices to make sure they are in accordance with federal law.”

According to its website, www.heladoslatapatia.com, Helados produces Mexican-style deserts such as frozen fruit bars and ice cream products.

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 Commission’s Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP).

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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