Chicken farmer claims discrimination by Pilgrim's Pride

by Bryan Salvage
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FORT WORTH, TEXAS — Aldaberto Brito, a Cuban-born chicken farmer who protested after Pilgrim's Pride decided to cancel some Florida growers' contracts, testified March 13 that the company discriminated and retaliated against him, according to The Associated Press.

Mr. Brito said a company representative told him that he would get more eggs in early March. But after Mr. Brito appeared in news coverage protesting the cancellations, "he told me he didn't have any chickens or eggs," Mr. Brito said.

Friday was the second day of a hearing in federal bankruptcy court to determine whether Pilgrim's Pride discriminated against about two-dozen Live Oak, Fla., growers.

Company officials said earlier last week they ended contracts with approximately one-fourth of the growers there because they decided to cut shifts at the Live Oak plant before filing for bankruptcy late last year. Officials said growers were chosen based on production factors — not race or union affiliation, as the farmers have alleged.

Mr. Brito, however, testified that he felt his field representative discriminated against him because he is Cuban. He said the man treated him "badly, not good. He never came to my farm with an agreeable look on his face."

He added that although he owns two farms, the representative "runs it" and can do things that affect his ranking — a system the company used to decide which growers' contracts to terminate.

Mr. Brito was on the witness stand for less than one hour before the hearing ended for the day. It will resume March 31.

"We do not comment on pending or threatened litigation," Ray Atkinson, director of corporate communications, Pilgrim's Pride Corporation, told MEATPOULTRY.com. "However, our policies and procedures do not permit any forms of discrimination against employees, vendors, suppliers, customers or growers. The company fully enforces these policies and complies with all local, state and federal laws regarding discrimination in the workplace. You can find all the court documents related to this case at http://www.kccllc.net/pilgrimspride."

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