On August 11, 2005, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Alabama under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 against Tyson Foods, Inc, one of the world's largest food production companies. On the same ...
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On August 11, 2005, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a lawsuit in the Northern District of Alabama under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1991 against Tyson Foods, Inc, one of the world's largest food production companies. On the same day, fourteen current and former African American Tyson employees who worked for the defendant's Ashland, Alabama plant filed their own complaint in the same court, 1:05-cv-01720, and a motion to intervene in this lawsuit. The individual plaintiffs sought relief under both Title VII and 42 U.S.C. § 1981. The cases were consolidated on November 1, 2005. Plaintiffs asked the court for injunctive relief and monetary damages, claiming that Tyson had maintained racially segregated facilities and had subjected African American employees to a racially hostile work environment and retaliation and threats. Specifically, plaintiffs claimed that in Tyson's Alabama plant African American employees were locked out of one of the two bathrooms, and that bathroom was marked with a "Whites Only" sign. Managers had knowledge of this practice and did not correct it, and additionally closed the break room frequently used by African American employees for lunch and established a new break room where only certain white employees had keys to the locked refrigerator and cabinets. Plaintiffs further alleged that their white supervisors and fellow employees would harass them and refer to them in racially derogatory terms. Finally, Plaintiffs claimed that during a training session for plant employees, the corporate personnel conducting the session threatened that if an employee filed a racial discrimination lawsuit, the plant would be shut down.
On March 9, 2006, the case was stayed until September 18, 2006 so that the parties could negotiate a settlement through mediation. The court dismissed the case on October 26, 2006, noting that a settlement had been reached by both parties. On November 7, 2006, the case was re-opened and the Consent Decree and Final Judgment entered.
The consent decree, which bound the parties for three years, stipulated that Tyson would not violate Title VII or § 1981 at its Ashland facility by engaging in any discriminatory or retaliatory practices. Tyson was also required to develop a clear policy prohibiting discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, as well as an Equal Employment Opportunity training program for its Ashland employees. The individual plaintiffs and the EEOC were awarded a gross sum of $871,000. Jennifer Gitter - 03/20/2013