WASHINGTON – The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is pursuing a racial discrimination claim against Smithfield, Virginia-based Smithfield Foods, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.

Philip Ewing, a former forklift driver, claims he was fired in February for performing his duties as a union steward. Ewing also filed a separate claim with the National Labor Relations Board. In May, the EEOC assigned the case to mediation.

The problem began after Ewing was appointed a union steward for the company, according to the Enquirer report. Ewing said he “started getting written up” whenever he filed a grievance for the workers. Ewing was fired after he was written up three times in four months with each action carrying a three-day suspension without pay.

Smithfield operates a hot dog and lunchmeat processing plant in Springdale, Ohio. The facility employs more than 400 workers.