Willmar, MN– Jennie-O Turkey Store Inc. has agreed to hire 53 women and pay $491,861 in back wages to 339 female job applicants denied entry-level jobs at its Willmar turkey-processing facility.
The company’s action resolves a U.S. Department of Labor lawsuit alleging the global turkey products producer discriminated in its hiring practices.
Jennie-O Turkey Store has received nearly $360 million in federal contracts as a supplier to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for schools and food banks. The company is the nation’s second largest producer of whole and processed turkey products sold to retail and foodservice outlets.
A review by the department’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs found Jennie-O’s selection practices discriminated against qualified female applicants for laborer positions from February 2009 to February 2010 in violation of Executive Order 11246. The review prompted the department to file the suit and a consent decree simultaneously to resolve the issue. A judge in the Office of Administrative Law Judges has entered an order adopting the consent decree. The company did not admit liability.
“Discrimination can be prevented when employers have non-discriminatory selection procedures in place and make certain that they are followed,” said OFCCP Director Patricia A. Shiu. “Jennie-O has worked proactively with our agency to resolve the agency’s findings of discrimination and has agreed to train personnel involved in the selection process to ensure that non-discriminatory policies are carried out going forward.”
Based in Willmar, Jennie-O Turkey Store, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hormel Foods Corporation. The company has nearly 7,000 employees who produce more than 1,500 products distributed in more than 70 countries worldwide. Jennie-O has been a recognized leader in the turkey processing industry for more than 70 years.
In addition to Executive Order 11246, OFCCP enforces Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1974. These laws, as amended, make it illegal for contractors and subcontractors doing business with the federal government to discriminate in employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a protected veteran. In addition, contractors and subcontractors are prohibited from discriminating against applicants or employees because they have inquired about, discussed or disclosed their compensation or that of others, subject to certain limitations.