Cargill responds to Labor Dept. hiring allegations

by Bryan Salvage
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SPRINGDALE, Ark. – An administrative complaint was filed against federal contractor Cargill Meat Solutions by the US Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) alleging it systematically discriminated against 4,069 qualified female, white, black, Hispanic and Native American applicants seeking entry-level production jobs at its Springdale, Ark. turkey processing facility.

Cargill Meat Solutions is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cargill Inc., and was awarded contracts worth more than $550 million with the US Department of Defense. DOL’s Office of Administrative Law Judges received the filed complaint after OFCCP said it was “unable to secure a fair resolution from CMS” regarding pay back wages and interest for rejected job applicants, as well as to offer jobs to approximately 167 of these affected workers.

A company spokesman told MEATPOULTRY.com the charges are disappointing, unfounded and without merit.

As a result, OFCCP wants to cancel CMS’ current government contracts plus prevent the processor from getting future government contracts until it addresses and fixes these alleged violations and corrects any discriminatory employment practices. OFCCP said it discovered the company's alleged discriminatory practices during a review to determine its compliance with rules prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating when hiring employees. OFCCP’s search determined CMS’ selection criteria “were subjectively and inconsistently applied.”. As a result, the complaint states women were less likely to be employed in entry-level production jobs, while Asian and Pacific Islander applicants were favored.

“We find the labor department’s allegations of discrimination to be disappointing given that Cargill’s employee population at the Springdale, Ark. facility, is diverse and is 84 percent minority,” CMS spokesman Mike Martin told MEATPOULTRY.com. “We believe the allegations are based solely upon a statistical analysis and not based on an analysis of any individual hiring decision. We believe the allegations are unfounded and without merit.”

Martin added this situation “feels a lot like government imposed hiring based on historical statistics, and not reality.” The period involved in the alleged discrimination is August 2005 to July 2008, a period when jobs were plentiful in Springdale and the unemployment rate there was below that which the federal government considers “full employment,” Martin said.

Cargill Meat Solutions complies with all federal regulations pertaining to hiring practices, including non-discrimination and legal right to work in the US, Martin insisted.

“Cargill Meat Solutions selects the best qualified candidates for open positions, without regard to their gender, race/ethnicity, nationality or any other non-job related category, which complies with both the law and company policy. Cargill Meat Solutions remains committed to treating all job applicants and employees fairly,” he concluded.

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