Koch Foods is settling a discrimination lawsuit with several Latino employees for more than $3.75 million.
Koch Foods, which is one of the world’s largest poultry suppliers, recently agreed to settle a 2011 class employment discrimination lawsuit for $3,750,000. The settlement funds will go to a variety of the company’s Hispanic workers whom the lawsuit was originally filed to defend. The suit itself was filed by the EEOC back on June 29, 2011 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi over allegations the company was guilty of “sexual harassment, national origin, and race discrimination as well as retaliation against a class of Hispanic workers at Koch’s Morton, Miss., chicken processing plant.”
The lawsuit was only filed after the EEOC attempted to settle through its conciliation process. Unfortunately, those efforts failed.
As part of the allegations detailed in the lawsuit, the EECO alleges Koch “subjected Hispanic employees and female employees to a hostile work environment and disparate treatment based on their race/national origin and sex, and then retaliated against those who complained.” According to the suit, Koch “supervisors touched and/or made sexually suggestive comments to female Hispanic employees, hit Hispanic employees and charged many of them money for normal everyday work activities.”
The settlement was approved by Judge Daniel P. Jordan III. As part of the agreement, Koch Foods must take appropriate actions “designed to prevent future discrimination, including implementing new policies and practices designed to prevent discrimination based on race, sex or national origin; providing anti-discrimination training to employees; creating a 24-hour hotline for reporting discrimination complaints in English and Spanish; and posting policies and anti-discrimination notices in its workplace in English and Spanish.” When commenting on the settlement, EEOC Birmingham Regional Attorney Marsha Rucker said:
“We commend Koch Foods for its commitment to settle this case, which contained serious allegations of harassment. The significant monetary award, the corrective measures in this decree, including EEOC monitoring, should prevent this kind of alleged misconduct in the future.”
Bradley Anderson, the EEOC’s district director for the Birmingham District Office, also chimed in and said the following in a press release:
“We take allegations of abuse seriously. No one working in America deserves to be harassed in the workplace, and, as evidenced in this lawsuit, the EEOC will engage in vigorous law enforcement efforts to protect workers.”
It is important to note that the processing plant where the allegations stemmed from was part of the “largest single-state worksite immigration raids” in the country. During the raid, “nearly 700 workers were detained at seven sites by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), in partnership with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Mississippi,” according to a Homeland Security Investigation spokesman. Of those 700 detained workers, 271 have been sent home.