A lawsuit was just filed against Taylor Farms in California by “16 current and former employees… alleging racial discrimination, a hostile work environment, and more.” The lawsuit was filed earlier this week on Monday. All 16 of the plaintiffs, who are African-American, “worked at the Tracy manufacturing plant.” According to the lawsuit filed on their behalf, “they were subjected to an unending cycle of racially-charged harassing and discriminatory behavior.”
When Taylor Farms was first informed about the claims it “launched a third-party investigation that did not support the claims made by the plaintiffs.” In addition, the company issued a statement saying “it is an equal opportunity employer with strong policies against discrimination and harassment.” It added, “the company looks forward to defending these claims in court. Taylor Farms is strongly committed to maintaining an inclusive and safe environment where all of our employees are treated with respect.”
According to the lawsuit, however, what Taylor Farms is preaching is opposite of how it has been behaving towards certain employees, including the 16 African-American plaintiffs. The plaintiffs were subjected to racially-charged harassment and discrimination that included “coworkers using racial slurs while supervisors and managers condoned and engaged in the racially abusive behavior.” Additionally, the lawsuit claims that “low-level and supervisory employees routinely used racist terms including the N-word and ‘monkey’ and Spanish-speaking employees used their own racist variations in reference to black coworkers.” Also, Taylor Farms allegedly maintained “policies that served to deny career advancement to black employees.”
To prove this claim the complaint noted that in 2015 there were “about 80 black employees at the Tracy location, but by 2017 fewer than 20 black employees remained due to the alleged discrimination and harassment.”
To make matters worse, the plaintiffs also claim the workplace at Taylor Farms was very segregated and that “black employees were largely confined to late-night shifts, inferior break rooms…were unfairly penalized for minor timekeeping issues, and they were not permitted the same opportunity to take breaks.” When it came to promotions, the plaintiffs allege “they were told they would only be considered for supervisory roles if they spoke fluent Spanish and English,” even though other employees who spoke fluent Spanish but not English were promoted. When discussing this portion of the complaint, the lawsuit says:
“In addition to being barred from receiving promotions to supervisory roles, this inconsistently applied policy made it difficult for African-American employees to communicate with their supervisors to receive feedback or learn how to perform new tasks.”
Unfortunately, when plaintiffs complained or voiced disagreement with how they were being treated, they were often “removed from work areas.”
It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit plays out and if it will bring about any changes to current Taylor Farms policies.