Jennie-O will hire more women after federal discrimination lawsuit

Author:
Updated:
Original:

The country's second-largest turkey producer has agreed to hire more women following a federal investigation and lawsuit.

A U.S. Department of Labor lawsuit accused Willmar-based Jennie-O of discriminating against qualified women who applied for jobs following a review from February 2009 to February 2010, a news release says.

Since Jennie-O has gotten nearly $360 million in contracts from the federal government, it's subject to reviews from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which found the alleged discrimination violated an equal opportunity employment rule, the office said.

But the company, which doesn't admit liability, has resolved the case, according to the agency.

Jennie-O agreed to hire 53 women and pay a total of $491,861 in back wages to 338 women who had applied for – but did not get – entry level jobs at the Willmar turkey-processing facility.

Patricia Shiu, the director of the labor department's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, said Jennie-O has worked "proactively" with the agency to resolve the discrimination claims and "has agreed to train personnel involved in the selection process to ensure that non-discriminatory policies are carried out going forward."

In a statement to BringMeTheNews, Rick Williamson, of Hormel Foods Corporation (which owns Jennie-O), said:

"We reiterate our commitment to a discrimination-free workplace for our employees and disagree with the Department of Labor's claims. That being said, we believe a settlement at this time will avoid further litigation and allow us to move forward with our business."

Federal officials are now looking for anyone who may have been impacted by the discrimination claims – they could be eligible for a portion of the back wages or consideration for job placement, the release says. If that could be you, visit the agency's website here or call 877-716-9783 for more information.

This isn't the first time a Minnesota company has faced this type of discrimination lawsuit. In 2014, Cargill agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle claims, the Business Journal says.

Women in the workplace

The Jennie-O case comes as the gender pay gap and women's rights continues to be a hot topic on the presidential campaign trial.

Here's a look at some statistics about women in the workplace:

A recent NBC News poll found 51 percent of women have personally experienced discrimination based on their gender. A majority of women also said society hasn't reached a point where women and men have equal opportunities for achievement.

Women's participation in the workplace has grown over timeAccording to the Department of Labor, 57 percent of women now participate in the labor force. But on average women only make about 79 percent of what men earn, the agency says.

And the International Labour Organization says there are fewer women in leadership positions – in 2009, only 24 percent of CEOs in the United States were women, and they earned 74.5 percent as much as male CEOs.

The Washington Post recently did a story about women in the workplace and "why they just can't win." Read it here.

Next Up

Marijuana, cannabis

Minnesota adds 2 more qualifying conditions for medical marijuana

There will be 17 conditions that qualify people to obtain medical marijuana in Minnesota.

Matt Birk

Ex-Viking Matt Birk confirms interest in future run for governor

The next gubernatorial election in Minnesota is Nov. 8, 2022.

Screen Shot 2020-12-01 at 10.59.59 AM

Handsome Hog in St. Paul to close temporarily

Executive chef Justin Sutherland cited inaction by state and federal leaders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Classroom

Dept. of Education adding more gender options when collecting student data

The public can comment on the implementation of the nonbinary gender options until Dec. 13.

police tape, crime scene

Police ID couple found dead in home, murder-suicide suspected

The bodies were found in St. Louis County after the pair failed to show for work.

State Capitol

Minnesota's budget forecast improves, shows $641M surplus for 2020-21

"Higher general fund revenues and lower expected spending result in a projected surplus," MMB said.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Brooklyn Park shooting leaves 2 injured

Two victims sustained non-life threatening injuries during the Monday evening incident.

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 10.38.01 PM

Worthington settles police brutality lawsuit for $590,000, agrees to reforms

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Kelvin Francisco Rodriguez, who spent five days in the ICU after being arrested.

Michael Munoz

Rochester superintendent admits he plagiarized letter to staff

Med City Beat broke the story, prompting the superintendent to apologize.

police tape, crime scene

Man and woman, aged 55 and 62, found dead in their home

The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office is investigating.

Related

Feds accuse Cargill of hiring discrimination

The U.S. Department of Labor claims women were less likely to be hired and Asian men were favored over other applicants at its meatpacking plant in Arkansas. Federal officials want to cancel Cargill's existing government contracts

Brodkorb discrimination complaint is prelude to a lawsuit

Former Senate Republican staffer Michael Brodkorb is filing a gender discrimination complaint over his firing. He argues he was fired for having an affair with Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, while women who have affairs with male senators are not punished. Brodkorb's lawyer says the complaint is a step toward a lawsuit.