WICHITA, Kan. – Cargill Meat Solutions Corp. agreed to pay $2.2 million as part of its settlement of hiring discrimination allegations by the Department of Labor's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).

In November, the OFCCP filed an administrative complaint against Cargill, alleging the company 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. OFCCP said it discovered Cargill's alleged discriminatory practices during a review to determine its compliance with rules prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating when hiring employees.

Cargill denied any wrongdoing, and said the OFCCP's allegations were unfounded and without merit. The company said the agency's allegations were based on statistical analysis and not on any individual hiring decision.

"The decision to settle was not taken lightly, because we work hard every day to ensure compliance with all hiring laws, and we have an unwavering commitment to diversity and equal employment opportunity," said Bill Buckner, Cargill senior vice president. "The plants involved in the bundled settlement include Fort Morgan, Colo. (beef); Springdale, Ark. (turkey); and Beardstown, Ill. (pork). They have diverse employee populations, representing dozens of nationalities. It's a fact we take great pride in, especially because these communities are thriving with economic prosperity that results from the diverse Cargill employee population."

"We are disappointed with the way OFCCP uses a mathematical model to allege violations in the absence of evidence," Buckner added. "We believe the agency needs to change the way it applies the law to ensure that OFCCP is not forcing employers to violate — by using quotas — the very laws the agency is supposed to be enforcing."