WASHINGTON – The US Dept. of Labor filed a lawsuit against JBS USA, a unit of São Paulo, Brazil-based JBS SA, on allegations of hiring discrimination at a beef processing plant in Cactus, Texas. Both JBS USA Lux SA and Swift Beef Co. are named in the complaint.

A compliance review by the agency’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) found that the Cactus facility allegedly discriminated against qualified American Indian/Alaskan Native, African-American, Hispanic and Caucasian applicants, while favoring Asian applicants for general production jobs at the Cactus beef processing plant. The discrimination occurred from at least 2007 through at least 2010, according to the complaint. The department said JBS USA violated Executive Order 11246, which prohibits federal contractors from discriminating against job applicants on the basis of race or national origin.

“JBS disagrees with the allegations from the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) regarding our hiring practices more than 6 years ago,” the company said in a statement. “As an equal opportunity employer, we offer employment to qualified individuals without regard to sex, race, national origin, or other protected status. This lawsuit from the OFCCP continues a troubling pattern of legal actions that attempt to cast employers in some of our country’s most economically-challenged rural communities as villains via statistical analysis.

 “We believe the US Labor Department has the potential to play a positive role in actually partnering with job creators to achieve outcomes beneficial for American workers of all orientations. Until that time, we will vigorously defend our hiring practices at trial.” 

The Dept. of Labor is seeking an order requiring JBS USA to provide complete relief to the affected applicants. Relief is to include hiring some into general production jobs and paying back pay and interest. The department also seeks an order permanently prohibiting the company from violating the Executive Order, canceling all of company’s federal contracts and debarring the JBS USA from entering into future federal contracts unless the company comes into compliance with the Executive Order and remedy their prior violations.

“JBS and its subsidiaries are required to comply with anti-discrimination laws that apply to federal contractors,” OFCCP Acting Director Thomas M. Dowd said in a statement. “We have filed this lawsuit to enforce those requirements.”

The agency noted that this is the second lawsuit OFCCP has filed against the company. The first complaint, filed on Dec. 1, 2014, alleges that JBS’s beef processing plant in Hyrum, Utah, systematically discriminated against qualified female, Caucasian, African-American and Native American applicants seeking entry-level jobs at the plant.