JBS Greeley will pay up to $5.5 million for past employee discrimination.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit against the food processing company in 2010. The EEOC claimed that JBS discriminated against Black people, Muslims and immigrants from Somalia.
The alleged discrimination violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal law that forbids discrimination in the workplace.
“The EEOC is proud to obtain such significant relief for the hundreds of workers harmed by the unlawful employment practices alleged in this lawsuit,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows in a news release. “This case serves as a reminder that systemic discrimination and harassment remain significant problems that we as a society must tackle.”
Muslim employees were not allowed time to pray and were harassed when they attempted to pray during their designated break time, according to a news release. During the 2008 Ramadan, the company prohibited employees from drinking water and washing before their prayers by turning off water fountains, according to EEOC allegations.
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Additionally, Somali Muslim employees were not allowed bathroom breaks and were “disciplined … more harshly than other employees,” according to the news release. These employees were frequently called offensive names and targeted through bathroom graffiti.
The EEOC also claimed that company managers and other employees “threw meat or bones at Black and Somali employees.”
In addition to the monetary settlement, JBS will give former employees covered by a decree the opportunity to be rehired, make changes to its anti-discrimination policies, create a 24-hour hotline for discrimination reports, support a diversity committee, look into employee complaints and hold all-employee yearly trainings on the laws surrounding anti-discrimination.
The company must also provide a “clean, quiet and appropriate” place for employee religious observances. These areas do not include bathrooms.
“I am hopeful that the employer’s new policies, especially those providing for swift handling of harassment complaints and ensuring appropriate times and places for employees to practice their faith, are a step in the right direction,” Burrows said.
Source:: The Denver Post – Business